How to Cook Tender Octopus


Octopus is one of those ingredients that are very common in a lot of culinary traditions from Portuguese to Japanese, but as we all know, octopus can be a bit tricky to cook, and that’s why when it’s cooked perfectly it’s so delicious, so here are some great tips and tricks that will help you cook octopus to perfection!

Note that most of these are from my Portuguese tradition of cooking octopus, so it doesn’t mean there are more ways or even better ways to cook octopus, also you don’t need to use them all, I’m going to divide this into a simple recipe and then add some more tips and tricks that might help you, let’s do this!

Recipe to Cook Tender Octopus

  1. If the octopus is fresh, ask the fishmonger to clean the octopus, that is, to remove the innards, ink sacs, mouth, and cartilages.
  2. If the octopus is frozen, it comes already cleaned, just defrost it and cook it.
  3. To cook it, you first prepare a big pot with plenty of hot water, you can season the water with two bay leaves, an onion cut into quarters, a pinch of salt, and a dash of olive oil.
  4. When the water is hot, you are going to take the octopus and dip it in the water, tentacles first, then remove it from the water, and dip it again, you are going to do this 3 times in total, this scalding/blanching of the octopus is for the skin to stick to the meat of the octopus while cooking, if you don’t do this, the skin will separate from the meat, and that’s never nice.
  5. Now if you’re going to cook the octopus, place the octopus in the water and let it cook on medium to low heat, you want the water to bubble but not boil hard, let it cook for 45 minutes to 2 hours (depends on the size of the octopus), until it gets tender, then you can serve it or if you want it a little toasted on the outside you can fry, grill or take it to the oven for a few minutes.
  6. If you’re going to take it to the oven, put the octopus in a dish, you can season it to taste or not (after the octopus is tender you can always season it), cover the dish with aluminum foil and take it to an oven at about 190ºC for 1 to 2 hours, until the octopus is very tender and that’s it.
  7. To see if the octopus is tender you stick a knife into the octopus, if it goes in without difficulty or when with a knife you can easily separate a tentacle from the head then the octopus is ready.

Tips and Tricks to Cook Tender Octopus

  • The rule of thumb or rule of gold to cook octopus is very simple, you cook the octopus very fast, or you cook the octopus for very long, anything in between, and you will have a super rubbery octopus.
  • Clean the octopus before cooking, some people forget to clean the octopus, and you will have a big mess, you rinse the octopus, take the head off, take the beak off, take the ink sac off, remove the organs. You will have the tentacles, and you will have the head sac, those the edible parts.
  • One way to make octopus more tender, especially if you are thinking about cooking the octopus quickly, is to blanch the meat, similar to what i did on top, but you have to do it for a bit longer, small octopus is like 1 minute, large octopus is like 8 minutes, after this put it in an ice bath and then when it’s time, cook the octopus.
  • Cook the octopus on pressure cooker, don’t add much water, because the octopus is already rich in water, the combination of heat and pressure is perfect to make the octopus super tender, it’s pretty quick as well, a normal octopus will be done in 15 to 20 minutes after the pressure goes up.
  • Marinate the octopus with milk for 1 day or water with 2% of vinegar or water with 2% salt for about 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the octopus, then cook.
  • Lots of times cooking the octopus is a 2 step cooking process, you blanch, partial cook, marinate, to make it more tender, and then maybe a day later you broil, grill, steam or roast.

And that’s it! Do you have some tips on how to cook tender octopus, write it down on the comments! Have a awesome day!



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