Marc Benko, Head Chef at Italian steakhouse, Bistecca, in Hong Kong, shares his recipe for aji panca spiced pan-seared octopus and kalamata olives. Aji panca is a mild, berry-flavoured chilli grown mainly in Peru. Read here.


Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 1 medium-sized octopus ( about 1.5kg)
  • 150g onion
  • 150g celery
  • 150g carrots
  • ½ bottle red wine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 200g aji panca paste
  • smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • fine-chopped garlic
  • 150g good mayo
  • 125g kalamata olives
  • lime
  • 5 crispy-fried new potatoes (depending on size, blanched cut in 4)
  • slices of chorizo
  • semi-dried cherry tomatoes (12 pieces drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and dried oregano roasted in the oven for about 15min)


for the plate:

  • kalamata olives
  • smoked paprika
  • micro parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil



Rinse the octopus under water and remove the beak, if any.

Boil water, red wine, onion, carrots, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a pot.

Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the whole octopus. Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer very lightly somewhere between 45min and 1.5hours depending on the octopus. Once cooked, it will have a tender, yet juicy, texture to it.

Slice the octopus into 8 equal pieces.


Aji Panca Sauce

In a pan bring the olive oil to light heat and add the aji panca paste.

Roast the paste for a while to extract all the flavours without burning it.

Add a good dash of smoked paprika and finely chopped garlic and set aside (for a milder taste add some tomato sauce, additional).


Olive Sauce

Combine mayo, kalamata olives and juice of 1 lime in a Vita Mix and blend until smooth.


For plating

Sear the octopus in a hot pan until crispy, add potatoes and chorizo slices to the hot pan and sear a bit longer.

Transfer to a bowl and generously add aji panca sauce and give a good toss.

Transfer to plates splitting everything in equal portions – drizzle with the olive mayo (squeezing bottle preferred), add cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and a good dash of smoked paprika and finish with micro parsley and extra virgin olive oil.


You want to know more about Marc Benko? Here you can read an interesting article about him.