I wish I could tell you that I first had grilled octopus in a Greek seaside bistro while sipping tumblers of ice-milked ouzo and taking in a Peloponnesian sunset.
Unfortunately, despite my desire, I have never visited Greece because the Fates always seem to stand in my way.
Holly, who happens to be part Greek, and I both adore grilled octopus, enough to post a recipe for a store-bought ingredient, but I can tell you that this Greek-inspired recipe is so fantastic I’d happily feed it to Aphrodite, or some mortal facsimile thereof… like Holly, who just so happens to be part Greek.
If you’ve ever tried to intentionally catch an octopus, you know it’s not that easy, even if you’re a diver. They are world-class escape artists. Yes, it’s true. I didn’t catch these octopuses. I bought them at a fish market. It’s my one weakness when it comes to purchasing fish or meat.
If you want a science-based tutorial on how to prepare an octopus, read the great Harold McGee’s method in the New York Times. There are many ways to tenderize octopus, but over the years I’ve found the best way is to slowly braise them in their own juices, over a bed of mixed herbs.
Serve your grilled octopus simply, with lemon, a drizzle of fine olive oil, and a grind of black pepper after the octopus is tender, as grilling only adds some char and scorch to the party.
You must have either an austere, crisp white wine — I recommend a Greek Assyrtiko or a French Sancerre — or lots and lots of ouzo, raki, or tsipouro. You must also have bread, olives, and feta cheese with your octos.
If you like grilled octopus, you’ll like calamari, and if you like octopus, you’ll love this recipe. In fact, you’ll find yourself eating more than you think you can handle; Holly and I finished the entire two-pound recipe in one sitting and we weren’t sorry.
Make miniature grilled octopus with butter | Pacific grilled octopus recipe
Grilled Octopus 🔗
Making grilled octopus at home is straightforward with this easy recipe. Use the grilled octopus to make a delicious salad with olive and parsley.
- 1 (2 lb. to 2¼ lb.) whole octopus
- 2 tbsp. neutral oil such as vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, grated or minced
- 2 tsp. lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon juice
- 1/3 c. pitted olives (green or kalamata or a mix), roughly chopped
- 1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add octopus and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the octopus with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with neutral oil. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day before grilling.
- Preheat grill to medium high for 5 minutes and clean and oil the grates. Grill the octopus for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until lightly charred all over. Transfer octopus to a cutting board.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
- Start by cutting the head off the octopus, cleaning out the inside and slicing into rings. Then cut each tentacle away from the center. Discard the center, which holds the hard beak. Cut the thicker parts of the tentacles into 1” pieces, keeping the thinner parts longer. Add the cut up octopus to the bowl with the dressing and toss. Stir in the olives and parsley and serve.
How do you tenderize an octopus before grilling?
I always boil it first, let it cool to room temperature, then grill it quickly to get a nice char, and then season it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried oregano, fresh parsley, and garlic (optional).
How do you cook octopus so it’s tender?
The unbrined octopus arms should be blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, cooked in a covered dry pan for four to five hours, or until tender, and then slowly cooled in their own juices.