A tender and tasty dish, octopus is easy to prepare and gives great satisfaction both served as a first course or in salads. Simply boiled and seasoned with oil, parsley, and lemon makes it an elegant, restaurant-like dish you can cook for your family or even for special occasions.
Octopus is a must ingredient for those who love seafood as I do. However, it is a rather expensive ingredient, and for that exact reason, I was held back to cook it for a long time. Finally, when I have done good work and researched how to cook octopus, I was surprised that the “hard part” of cooking octopus was only in my head. It turns out that octopus can be cooked in less than an hour with only a few basic ingredients like parsley, lemon, and olive oil.
Moreover, in this recipe, I will share with you my biggest secret: octopus cooked without water. Yes, I am absolutely aware of what I’m writing. This recipe is about boiling octopus without water, it simmers in its own juices. Can you imagine how soft and intense the aroma will be? I guarantee this is the best recipe for boiled octopus you will ever find on the internet.
When it’s cooked, you can decide what to do with the tender tentacles; grilled or cut and mixed in a salad are some of the options that will make your dinner the perfect place.
How to choose fresh octopus?
Like all fish products, octopus is also liable to spoil over a short period of time. For this reason, cook the sea creature as soon as you buy it. How do you know octopus is fresh? The tentacles must be firm yet elastic, the skin should have a natural shine and the suckers have to be consistent and whole.
How to clean octopus?
The good news is that most octopuses on the market are already cleaned. However, if you found a fresh octopus, here is what you need to do:
- Wash the octopus under running water
- Cut it at the root of the tentacles and remove the eyes
- Peel the cap and turn it inside out clean it from the entrails
- Rinse again
- Use a sharp knife to cut and remove the beak
- Clean the tentacles and remove any dirt from the suckers
How to cook octopus (and keep it soft)
The real gripe is being able to cook the octopus to perfection, which means till it’s tender and soft. Undercooking as well as overcooking make the tentacles chewy and therefore unappetizing. Many sources advise beating the octopus first as they say it tenderizes the meat. Honestly speaking I skipped this step and the result was still outstanding. The best method in my opinion is to freeze the fresh octopus prior to cooking it. But, as I have already said, most of the octopuses on the market are clean and frozen then thawed prior to being sold.
Use a large pot when cooking octopus. Place the cleaned creature in the pot, add some parsley tails, zest of one lemon, a few tablespoons of olive oil, some bay leaves, and some black pepper, and put the waterless pot on the stove.
Do not add salt as the octopus is already salted by itself. Do not add water. In a dry pot put in the octopus and the ingredients that will add flavor to it. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes on medium heat.
When the time runs out, use a fork to poke the tentacles, if it goes in and out easily, it’s done. Turn off the stove and leave the octopus in the pot, do not take it out once cooked. Leave it in its own juices until it has cooled down completely. This is an important rule to respect in order to get those soft and tender octopus tentacles.
Why do not boil octopuses in water?
The flesh of the creature consists mainly of water, which is about 80 percent. When subjected to heat treatment, water is released easily. Therefore, when cooked in a dry pan, the octopus will discharge about half its weight in juices. Therefore, it will be simmering in its own juices till perfectly cooked. As a result, you will get very attractive meat, of an intense dark pink color, savory and tender. The gelatinous sauce made from boiling the octopus is ideal to keep it elastic, tender, and juicy.
When you cook octopus in water, you miss half of its natural taste because the water dilutes the juices and flavor of the octopus.
How to tenderize octopus?
There are a few methods of how to soften the meat of the octopus prior to cooking it. The main idea is to break down the fibers so as to become more tender. Here are some of the methods:
- Beat the octopus on a stone or on a shelf, or use a meat mallet. This is the option best used for fresh octopuses.
- Freeze octopus. When you need it, just defrost and cook it. I find this option the best. Remember that cleaned octopuses you will find on the market have already been frozen. Therefore, there is no need to repeat the procedure.
Cooking time for octopus
The cooking time varies according to the weight of the cephalopod. The smaller the octopus, the less it will take for it to be cooked. For example, if the cleaned octopus weighs about 1 pound, it will take about 30 minutes to be done. If it is double the weight, then it is double the cooking time. Remember that the best trick is to let the octopus cool down in its own juices.
How to sear octopus?
Remove the octopus from its liquids and cut off the tentacles where they unite on the body. Use the body for salads. Heat up a skillet or pan, add a couple of police oil and some crushed garlic and fry for about 2-3 minutes on high heat. Then turn sides and wait for another 2-3 minutes.
How to serve octopus?
Serve the seared octopus next to a green salad such as the Spinach Avocado Salad, Feta Cheese Salad, or the consistent Frech Potatoe Salad. Also, you may serve it with a sauce such as Tzatziki. Pair this dish with a chill glass of white wine. Enjoy!
How To Cook Octopus Easy Recipe
- 1 whole octopus
- 1 handful parsley the tails
- 1 lemon the zest
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- Clean and rinse the octopus (remove the eyes and the beak)
- Put the octopus in a large pot
- Add the parsley tails, olive oil, black pepper, bay leaves and shave one lemon and add in the zest
- Put the pot on the stove and cover it with a lid
- Cook in medium heat for 40-50 minutes (until the meat is soft)
- Turn off the heat and let the octopus cool down in its own juices
How to sear octopus
- Cut the tentacles of the octopus
- Heat a skillet with some olive oil
- Add in some crushed garlic cloves
- Sear the tentacles for 2-3 minutes then turn sides and cook for another 2-3 medium on high heat
- Serve with pleasure