Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Octopus Stewed with Onions & Tomato – Htapothi Stifatho

In Greek: χταπόδι στιφάδο, pronounced khtah-PO-thee stee-FAH-tho

A delightful stew made with a large quantity of onions – but the dish wouldn’t be the same without them. Use small pearl stewing onions if you can find them. I couldn’t when I was making this, as you can see in the photo, so I used medium-sized onions and sliced them.

Octopus Stifatho

Octopus Stifatho

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour


  • 4 1/2 pounds of octopus, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
  • 1 1/4 pounds of whole boiler onions, peeled (or medium onions, cut in strips)
  • 2 1/2 cups pulped fresh tomatoes (or canned chopped stewed tomatoes)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 7/8 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of good quality red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 3 bay leaves


A note about octopus: Octopus loses a lot of its volume during cooking, so expect that the finished dish will look like quite a bit less than the original quantity.

If the octopus has not been cleaned: Under running water, remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes from the large head cavity. Remove the beak, at the bottom of the head where it joins the tentacles, with a sharp knife. (Squeamish? Wear rubber gloves.)

Place the whole octopus in a pot with enough boiling water to to cover generously. When it resumes boiling, cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain. When cool enough to handle, rub the octopus with your hands under running water to remove the dark outer membrane. This comes off fairly easily, and if it doesn’t all come off, that’s all right. Cut octopus into small (1/2 to 1 inch) pieces.

In a large pot, bring the olive oil to medium heat and sauté the onions and octopus for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water and continue to cook for 5 minutes more, stirring to make sure the onions aren’t sticking to the bottom.

Add the tomato pulp and garlic, bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar, pepper, and bay leaves, stir well, and let cook for another minute. Remove from the heat at allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.

Alternative: Htapothi Krasato (Stewed with wine)
Reduce water by half and add 1/2 cup of dry red wine and a stick of cinnamon with the tomato pulp.

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