By Christie Vanover | Published September 20, 2015 | Last Updated July 14, 2022
A lot of restaurant chefs are featuring grilled octopus salad nowadays. The octopus is meaty and tender and develops a nice crispy char when it’s cooked on the grill. It’s not fishy at all. It’s a very subtle meat, kind of like squid, and it will take on the flavors mixed with it.
Ingredients for Grilled Octopus
There are two ways to make this recipe: the adventurous way with a whole fresh octopus, or the easy way with pre-steamed octopus tentacles.
Before Grilling Octopus, It’s Important to Steam It
If you were to throw raw octopus on the grill, it would be very chewy, so it’s very important that you steam it first.
When shopping for octopus, you might be lucky enough to find it already steamed. If that’s the case, you can skip that step in the recipe and go straight to the marinade and the grill.
If you’re looking for a little more adventure, check your local Asian market for whole fresh octopus and follow the full recipe.
To steam it, you’ll need to fill a very large pot with water and heat it to a simmer.
To get the pretty, magical curls, hold the obstacle by its head. Then, dip the tentacles in the water and then lift it out and re-dip it a few times. As the meat reacts to the heat, the tentacles will curl right before your eyes.
Once you’re happy with the curls, you can place the whole octopus in the water and flavor the water. I like adding fresh juice from an orange, lemon and lime along with salt, whole peppercorns and some white wine.
I also add wine cork to the water. This, for some magical reason, helps make it nice and tender.
Cover the pot, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the octopus is tender when pierced with a fork or knife.
Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing and Marinade
While the octopus is steaming, make the citrus vinaigrette. This will be used to marinate the octopus and to dress the salad.
Be sure to reserve about two tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a separate bowl. It will be used later to dress the salad.
After you have steamed the octopus, it’s time to remove the head. We’re only going to eat the tentacles. So use a knife and slice those off.
Then, place the steamed tentacles in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for as little as 30 minutes or up to 24 hours, depending on how rich you would like the flavor to be.
If you purchased pre-steamed octopus tentacles, you can jump straight to this marinade step.
How to Grill Octopus
Great news! Grilling octopus is super easy. Once you’ve reached this point, the octopus is already thoroughly cooked and safe to eat.
The grilling process is done to add texture and to create those crispy succulent bits. The oil in the vinaigrette will assist with that charring, as well.
You can cook this recipe on a charcoal or gas grill. You can also use a pellet grill set to about 400F degrees. Heat it to high with a direct heat setting. Then, cook it flipping occasionally, until it’s charred to your liking.
Make Grilled Octopus Salad
Once you remove your octopus from the grill, you can serve it in a variety of ways. My favorite is atop a fresh fennel salad.
You’ll find fennel in the vegetable section of the grocery store. It’s usually near the celery or parsnips. It has a funny bulb shape with thin dark green fronds on top.
Slice off those fronds and set them aside for your garnish.
Then, slice the fennel into thin strips. Be sure to rinse them well, because sometimes sand and soil residue will be left inside (just like you find with leeks).
Toss the fennel in the reserved vinaigrette and add them to a plate.
For final assembly, place the charred grilled octopus right on top. Pour any remaining vinaigrette on top and sprinkle with the fennel fronds.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Grilled octopus has a texture similar to squid (calamari). It’s chewy, but is very bland. Even though octopus live in the ocean, the meat does not have a fishy flavor. By steaming the octopus before grilling it, the octopus will become more tender and less chewy.
Absolutely not. This grilled octopus recipe includes steps in case you do want to cook the whole octopus, but you can also purchase pre-steamed tentacles and grill them.
I have only found whole octopus at local Asian markets, like Seafood City. Tentacles are becoming more common. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. There are several seafood purveyors online that now sell cooked tentacles, as well.
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Grilled Octopus Salad
- fresh octopus
- 1 large pot of water
- 1 orange juiced
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 wine cork
- 1 orange juiced and zested
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 tbsp fennel fronds
- Steam: Heat a pot of water on a stove over medium-high heat. Holding the head of the octopus, dip the tentacles in the water for 10 seconds. Lift it back out. Repeat three times. This will cause the tentacles to curl. Drop the entire octopus in the water.
- Flavor Broth: Add the juices, salt, pepper, wine and wine cork. Cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. The tentacles should be tender when pierced with a knife.
- Make Salad: While the octopus is cooking, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl. Toss 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a separate bowl with the sliced fennel.
- Marinate: When the octopus is tender, remove it to a cutting board. Cut off the tentacles and discard the head. Place the tentacles in the vinaigrette. Soak for 30 minutes to overnight.
- Grill: Heat the grill to high. Place the tentacles on the grill and cook, until charred on all sides.
- Assemble: Add a mound of fennel to a plate. Top with 2-3 pieces of grilled octopus. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with fennel fronds for garnish.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator