Cooking Octopus on the Grill

Here’s a recipe a tried recently but hadn’t taken the time to post on The Homesteading Hippy: Grilled Baby Octopus. I bought them during one of my regular visits to our oriental market. The reason I am posting this now is that I just bought some jumbo squid and plan on using some of the tricks I learned with octopus to cook them.


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The octopus came in a tray of eight, and since I was cooking for four people that worked out nicely. Octopus take a bit of processing before they can be eaten. Since they are molluscs, like escargot snails, they have a tendency to become tough otherwise.


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After thawing, I laid them on a cutting board, and made a small lengthwise cut in the body, right behind the eyes. By turning the body inside out, it is actually quite easy to remove the guts, a process mot nearly so simple in the aforementioned snails. Every octopus has a small beak in its mouth, right at the center of the arms. By pushing on it from the inside of the body cavity, this can be popped right out.


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A marinade of lemon juice will denature a lot of the proteins, making the octopus more tender. This is akin to making ceviche, which is entirely “cooked” through soaking in acidic marinade. I added soy sauce, cumin, caraway, and red curry paste to my marinade, but this is entirely up to your tastes.

5-Soaking(Click to see larger view)

After about two hours of soaking, I skewered the octopus and popped it on a hot grill for about five minutes, turned them, and cooked another three minutes. Since they are small, that is all it takes, and any longer would have done two things: Firstly, the octopus would have gone from tender to tough. Molluscs require either a very short or very long cook time. Secondly, the skewers would have burned away entirely. Even in eight minutes, the skewers were starting to catch fire.


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The texture was perfect, with a slight crisp on the outside, and tender but chewy meat. Flavour-wise, I think is was successful. Next time I will rinse off the excess marinade to make it less sour, and possibly rub in spices before grilling. The flavours are entirely up to the cook, with a long acidic marinade and a short, hot, cook time being the only requirements. As such, it would be very easy to convert this from asian to mediterranean, or latin. I’d call it a success!

~The Homesteading Hippy


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