You don’t have to be a professional chef to cook octopus for dinner, order online or ask a fishmonger to catch up a few octopus to grill.
If you follow food trends, you will have heard the octopus is one to watch in 2017. Much simpler to make than most people think, Grilled Octopus is not difficult to prepare at home.
Octopus first came onto my radar a few years ago while in Cape May, NJ with my family. As we walked into a new-to-us restaurant, called The Pier House, I immediately noticed that every table, and I mean every table, had a dish with tentacles on it. As we waited for a table, I asked the bartender about it and he said it was their signature dish. I instantly knew that I had to order one.
It was good! My sister especially loved it. If you are squeamish about calamari, then octopus may not be for you. I myself, only eat the tubes of calamari and “save” the tentacles for my husband, sister, mom or friends, lol! So it took me a minute to get past it mentally. But once I did the delicate white meat was delicious.
I decided I would make Grilled Octopus because I knew the bit of crispiness the grill would lend the dish would be something I want to experience and I sure did like the crispy ends.
Served simply, seasoned, drizzled with quality olive or grapeseed oil and spritzed with lemon is a great start to a meal. You can dress it up with with olives, cheese and peppers…Grilled Octopus is something you should put on your culinary bucket list for 2017.
A 3-ounce serving of octopus has less than 150 calories, is naturally low in fat and contains over 25 grams of protein.
Now let’s talk about how to cook it. When you order or buy an octopus, its typically cleaned (no ink inside), however always ask just in case. Cut off the head (you can eat the head after you cut out the eyes… When clean, the head is like a calamari tube). After you cut the head off, use a sharp paring knife to carve out the beak, which is located on the underside of the octopus, in the middle of the legs/tentacles.
Some say throw it on the grill… A chef even told me to do that, however that is not the way to go…unless you want to be chewing on “bubble gum”. In Spain where octopus is a staple food, they boil it and include a (cork) wine cork or 6…It is said that something in the cork (an enzyme) helps tenderize the octopus. I threw a cork in mine…why not?? I have watched Bobby Flay cook an octopus with about 8-10 corks, he swears by that method. He also bangs the heck out of his octopus before putting it in the pot. I hear they do that in Greece as well, against rocks. So maybe there is something to it.
I‘m kind…no banging of the octopus for me and they have come out nice and tender, lol!
Octopus contains a lot of liquid so part of the braising liquid is the juice the octopus will yield after it reaches a boil. I read that in Spain, they simply put the octopus in a pot and wait for the liquid. I did try that method and what happened was the bottom of my pot had a complete octopus “fossil” on it afterwards; it took some serious elbow grease and a few other tricks to get that out…so I suggest adding liquid first.
Octopus needs to braise for about 60-90 minutes (depending on its size). That will make it tender. After, allow it to cool completely in the liquid. After it cools, you carefully remove the skin. It’s just a very thin coating and it rubs right off. If you’re not care removing the skin, you can rip a tentacle right off, so be gentle. You can then decide to grill it or wrap it up and refrigerate it overnight for grilling the next day.
Greek flavors go well with octopus. Simple flavors.
Ask your fishmonger to order you a couple 1-2 pound octopus to start (they reduce in size when you cook them by about 30%.). All I know is that when I have octopus at home…I want the grill to be involved. I want it a bit charred and crisp in spots. Delicious!
Check out this recipe for Spicy Charred Octopus I have bookmarked to try from Bon Appetite, I love the sauce.
And if you need a visual on how to prep the octopus, this video is good. Plus the accent, love it!