What Does Octopus Taste Like? And How to Prepare It!
Octopus may not sound like the most appetizing dish to those who have never tried it. But, when properly cooked, it is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. The trouble with octopus is that if you taste it and it hasn’t been properly prepared, you will most likely be turned off from octopus forever. However, if you are fortunate enough to try octopus prepared properly, you will most likely find that it is delicious. So, what does octopus taste like? For most people who have tried good octopus, they would say it is very much like the flavor and texture of lobster.
Octopus Flavor and Texture
Octopus is often confused with squid, though they really aren’t very much alike at all. Squid is naturally tough while octopus is very tender. If you have eaten octopus and would classify it as tough, it wasn’t properly cooked. Octopus is by no means a simple dish to cook, in fact, it takes a great deal of preparation and effort to properly prepare it. Given the proper handling and preparation, it is well worth the work in the end.
Octopus has a very distinctive texture and when uncooked, also has a very distinct smell. For most home cook’s octopus is a very daunting dish to prepare. The truth is, it isn’t simple. Octopus must be properly cleaned and sliced before you can begin the cooking process. As for the flavor of octopus, it is very much influenced by the cooking flavors and method used. In many areas of the world, octopus is eaten in its raw form and has a slightly sweet flavor to it. With each different method of preparation, comes a different flavor profile for the octopus.
Proper Octopus Preparation
As mentioned previously, octopus must be properly cleaned and sliced before it can be prepared. If you are purchasing your octopus from a fish market, it is well advised that you have them do this part for you. If you are purchasing frozen octopus, it should come already cleaned and ready for preparation. If you are cleaning your own octopus, it isn’t a very hard task but it can take time to do it properly.
When preparing octopus, both fresh and frozen, you need to be prepared for the initial cutting and cleaning. Even if you purchase already cleaned octopus, you will still need to disassemble it yourself. For frozen octopus, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator. If the octopus still has the beak and head attached, this is the time to remove them. To start, slice off the head and then flip the octopus around to remove the beak. It is located directly in the middle of the octopus’s tentacles. You will want to do so by using a paring knife to slice around it and the pushing it out.
Octopus must be tenderized, this is a very important part of the cooking process. For most recipes, the tenderization is done by simmering the octopus in a combination of water and red wine. After this process is completed, the octopus is then ready for the preferred method and flavor combination that you wish to use. The process of tenderizing can take as long as four hours at a low simmer.
Simple Grilled Octopus at Home
While it is extremely tempting to order octopus at a restaurant, it can be very pricey and the chances of it being perfectly cooked may be a bit of a risk. If you spend the right amount of time and effort, you will be more than pleased with the results of cooking octopus at home.
- 2 Lbs. Octopus
- Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
1.) To start, the octopus needs to be tenderized. Place the octopus in a large pot and cover with water, red wine, or a combination of both. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow to stay at a constant boil for 40 minutes.
2.) After the 40 minutes, remove the octopus and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Lightly drizzle the octopus with olive oil and the minced garlic to add some additional flavor. Allow the octopus to rest for at least 30 minutes while it marinates and completely cools and you are ready to grill.
3.) Pre-heat and prepare your grill of choice, a gas grill is ideal but not required. Pre-heat the grill to medium-high. While the grill is pre-heating, slice the octopus’s tentacles into optimal serving slices. Place the tentacle slices onto the grill and grill for around 3-4 minutes per side, until evenly charred.
4.) Once charred, remove the octopus from the grill and place it into a medium-large bowl.
5.) Drizzle the octopus with olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Then, season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add chopped oregano, garlic, and parsley for additional flavor and color.
6.) This simple grilled octopus is best served immediately.
As you become more and more comfortable with cooking octopus at home, the flavor options will prove to be endless. From the many cultural cooking options to the more modern takes on this traditional dish; octopus can be as versatile as it is delicious. While many people prefer only fresh seafood, many feel that frozen octopus turns out much more tender than fresh octopus. You should estimate around 1 pound of octopus per person, so if you are entertaining, it would be wise to plan ahead for the cooking time.
Regardless of how you feel about the initial preparation you have to do before you tenderize, it isn’t nearly as hard and daunting as it sounds. If you are a fan of octopus or an adventurist looking to try something new, cooking your own octopus at home won’t disappoint. Do you have a favorite octopus recipe or cooking technique? Let us know in the comments bellow!