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Aug 18, 2003 01:34 PM

Tenderizing octopus

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How would I go about tenderizing octopus before grilling over charcoal? How long do you grill it?



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  1. I think I would just grill it on a high heat for a short period of time. no reason to tenderize as long as it is cooked fast and short.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. I've never done full-size octopus on the grill. However, I do baby octopus frequently and there is no need to tenderize them. I toss then in olive oil, lemon juice and herbs and grill for a couple of minutes. Grill too long and they're tough and rubbery, too short and you don't get that great char.

        1. Until it talks. The more intimidating you are, the quicker it should go.

          (but seriously, folks) Great question. I've had good luck with squid on the grill, but I've been nervous about turning octopus to rubber with the same technique.

          1. I was born in Greece and returned for summer vacations every year throughout my childhood. One of my favorite memories is that of watching local fishermen beating freshly caught octopus against the rocks in the harbor before throwing it on a wood fired grill. They claimed this is the best way to tenderize it, and I remember nothing but the most juicy, succulent octopus appetizers consumed dockside after a day at the beach.

            Lacking a rocky Greek harbor in my neighborhood, I'd consider whacking them around with a meat cleaver if they are exceptionally large and tough looking.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Fargo
              JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

              Reminds me of the time on Iron Chef that they were doing octopus... some tips I got from that one are:

              -Always get your seafood as fresh as possible. Still moving is best.
              -When deep-frying octopus (and you got it as fresh as possible, simply place the octopus in the breading. As the octopus wriggles around, it breads itself, saving you lots of time and effort in the kitchen.
              -The easiest way to tenderize an octopus is to beat the living daylights out of it with a blunt object. While a meat tenderizer can be used, you can infuse the octopus with some additional flavor by using a daikon radish (Yes, the Iron Chef did this!). An added bonus of this is that your guests will never believe what they saw you doing to a dead octopus.

              1. re: Fargo

                Most octopus sold in the US has been previously frozen. In this case no tenderizing is necessary.

                I have never grilled an octopus, but I just checked the usually reliable "Flavors of Greece" by Rosemary Barron. She suggests cooking the octopus the day before in two cups of white wine plus enough water to cover. Time depends on the size of the octopus (1 1/4 hours for a 5 lb octopus). From personal experience, I can tell you that at this point the octopus tentacles should be tender enough to be easily pierced with the point of a knife.

                Before grilling make a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Cut up the octopus and coat with the marinade. Before placing on the grill, sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper. Grill a few minutes on either side, brushing occasionally with the marinade.

                Pat G.

                1. re: Pat Goldberg

                  Glad to see some props for Rosemary Barron's book. I love it; can say that this is one cookbook in which every recipe I've prepared NEVER failed to please. To add to the tips Pat has provided, Barron actually gives directions on how to clean a whole octupus as well, paraphrased below.

                  Remove eyes, mouth and inside of head. Rinse in several changes of water before proceeding with the wine bath Pat has described. One other step, following the wine bath and before the grilling, if you are dealing with a whole, adult octopus: cut off legs and leave whole; and quarter head, peeling off the skin and suckers to expose the pale pink flesh. Then proceed with marinade and grilling as described above.

                  I've used Barron's marinade for octopus, using baby octopus, but have never attempted it with a whole adult one. Fish King in Glendale, CA sells whole cleaned baby octopus in their freezer section, which are very easy to work with, and tasty too.

                  1. re: DanaB

                    I didn't include the "how to clean" stuff because the previously frozen ones are always cleaned, insofar as I know.

                    But if you are planning to beat them into submission, then you will need to clean them.

                    Pat G.

                2. re: Fargo

                  They also hang them up in the sun outside restaurants and caf├ęs, which is quite a sight when you're not used to it!