I know what you’re thinking–the first “easy” recipe on the blog sounds like one of the most difficult things you could try at home. Octopus is one of those foods that makes you work for your meal; it isn’t very expensive, but if you don’t cook it properly it can turn into rubber. Luckily, I’m going to give you a few tips to make this simple appetizer at home. You’re going to be surprised at how accessible this is!
The first step to any meal is finding your ingredients–in this case, the octopus is the most challenging. Ask around at your local famers market, and you’re likely to find octopus frozen in imposing looking packaging–it won’t look appetizing. For this recipe, I’d suggest you go for the baby octopus, rather than full grown. Baby octopus is naturally far more tender than the adults, so it’s a lot more forgiving if this is your first time cooking octopus at home. As an added bonus, the baby octopus will cook faster, which of course means that you’ll get to eat sooner…
Before you’re ready to cook, you should defrost your octopus, and check to see whether they are fully cleaned. Check the center of the body for the hard beak; it will usually be removed, but you don’t want to make any assumptions. Next, cut away the heads, and discard. Once you have all of your cleaned tentacles gathered together, you’re ready to get started.
3 lbs Baby Octopus, cleaned
6 Roma Tomatoes, charred and diced
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Lemons, juiced
1 Cup Parsley, Chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
1 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Bay Leaf
Salt, Pepper, Cumin, and Paprika to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil with a table spoon of salt. Add in your juiced lemon halves, bay leaf, and spices, and two tablespoons of olive oil. Blanche the baby octopus to the boiling mixture, and stir until the octopus begins to change color, and firm up.
- Remove the octopus from the pot, and allow it to cool, and drain. In a separate bowl, combine 1 clove of minced garlic, the juice of one lemon, olive oil, vegetable oil, and spices, and stir. Transfer octopus to a large ziplock bag, then pour this mixture into the bag and seal. Allow this to marinate for at least two hours in the refrigerator.
- Slice the tomatoes into halves, then char them on your grill until the skin begins to blister and blacken, then remove from the heat and allow them to cool to room temperature. Add Garlic, onions, bell peppers, parsley, lime juice, and spices to a food processor. Once the tomatoes are cool, add them to this mixture, and pulse in the food processor until smooth. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.
- After two hours have passed, remove the ziplock bag from the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature on the counter for about twenty minutes. Spread the octopus on the grill, and cover–continue to cook until the legs begin to char. The octopus should be fork tender just before it comes off of the grill.
- Plate with your salsa and serve.