Monday, October 27, 2014

Octopus Salad

If you’ve never tasted Octopus, you’ll find it’s a lot like calamari, just stronger, and meatier.  Mexican Octopus Salad (“ensalada de pulpo”) made with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, and chiles makes a wonderful side dish, main dish for a luncheon, or can be exquisite as a topping for tacos or tostadas. Octopus isn’t always available at local markets but sometimes it appears at a local Whole Foods  Store, and then it’s time size the opportunity make mincemeat of the slithery looking sea beast. Octopus Slad may be made like a ceviche made where the octopus is cooked without heat in an acidic marinade. but for his recipe the octopus will be blanched first by plunging it into boiling water, then slowly stewing it in its own juices with fragrant herbs. Ths process concentrates the natural flavor of the octopus  as it absorbs flavor from the herbs. Slow cooking helps tenderize the normally rubbery texture of the octopus so that it’s texture resembles that of a steamed lobster. After cooking we cool, then chop the meat, toss it with the tomatoes and other vegetables set aside in a dressing made of lime juice, cider vinegar, olive oil, and then chill it for several hours.

OCTOPUS SALAD (Ensalada de Pulpo)


One 2-3 pound octopus, cleaned
S&P to taste
A few sprigs of fresh oregano
A few sprigs of fresh parsley
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
1 cup seeded, chopped cucumber,
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 scallions, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced 
1/2 cup (loose) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped, seeded fresh tomatoes


1. Heat a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. 

Place the raw octopus in the boiling water, return the water to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. 

Remove the Octopus from the pot and place to cool on a sheet pan. 

Discard the cooking water.

Cut Octopus into large pieces, discard  the guts, beak, ink sac,may have  been neglected in the cleaning process. Place the pieces of Octopus on the herbs.

3. Place a bed of the parsley, cilantro, fresh oregano in a small Dutch oven or covered casserole. Put Octopus over the herbs, cover and bake at 250° for 1 3/4 hours, until tender.

4. Remove the pieces of octopus to a sheet pan to cool. When cool to touch, pull off any gelatinous bits that surround the pieces of the octopus you  may not want to eat. They taste good, but you may not like the slimy texture. If rubbery slime doesn’t bother you, just leave it. The small round pieces of meat that resemble eyeballs are not eyeballs, but loose suction cups from the creature’s tentacles. They also taste good so don’t be squeamish. Cut the meat of the Octopus into 1/2-inch pieces. 

5. Place the chopped octopus into a large, mixing bowl.  Add the cucumbers, red onion, scallions, cilantro, dried oregano, and jalapeño,  the lime juice, cider vinegar, olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and stir to combine.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, but better overnight.  Just before serving  stir in the chilled chopped tomatoes.


  1. I completely agree with you Free Thinke, It’s really kind of amazing, when you think about it…but be it as it may, I myself enjoy a plate of good octopus, however not the “chopped kind, I like the complete Squid. Greek style with Garlic and Olive Oil preferably the whole squid with the squid rings and all. However my good man, I became rather disillusioned with certain octopi and I get a sickening feeling from them. I’m referring to the octopi with Left tentacles, I find them to be very “tasteless” kind of like eating CRAP. What’s missing, you may ask? I would say it’s a combination of the lack of integrity of the specie and the truthfulness of the species itself. Some octopi are just too tough to chew, kind of like donkey meat, or horse meat.
    I would agree with you that there are MUCH better fish in the sea.

  2. I find the Ceviche style, in Lime juice to be my personal favorite, and like lobster, Octopus should be Cooked by boiling it alive.
    You'll find it to be less messy and it won't squeal like a pig in heat when cooked.

  3. Live octopus is almost impossible to find unless you live in a Greek or Italian fishing village. However, to be any good at all it must be fresh caught. Frozen it loses all flavor and is therefore worthless.

    I'm a lifeiong lover of seafood of all kinds, but squid and octopus have been special favorites from childhood.

    Search the files of this blog, and you'll see other delectable recipes, but this one for Mexican style octopus salad is excellent. To make it less "Mexican" skip the cilantro and use basil, oregano, and a small amount of fresh pureed garlic instead in the dressing. Lemon juice by the way is always a good substitute for vinegar.

  4. Sarah, never fear we would never consider eating an octopus with left-leaning tentacles. All of them are filled with deadly toxin. Even so much as one small bite can make you deathly ill, Larger amounts are invariably lethal.

    HOWEVER, with the exception of Maine Lobster with Steamed Soft-Shelled Clams with Drawn Butter, there nothing more satisfying than GOOD cuttlefish, providing they are cooked properly.

  5. Uh oh! I see trouble ahead over his once word gets around. You are either very brave or very stupid. I don't know which, The vultures from Paranoid Central may try to get you put in jail. Better be careful, FreeThine. If I were you'd I'd pull this post before it's too late.

    Paolo Riveriera

  6. Thank you for this valuable information Free Thinke, May I add a few thoughts as well?
    I’m sure that I have read it somewhere , if not, I’m sure that it’s true anyway. That according to a study by the United States Centers for Disease Control , octopuses, and some squid are VENOMOUS, and that some species should be avoided at all costs for the prevention of illness, disability, and even death due to the diseases that they carry.
    Octopus venom is very similar to those in other poisonous creatures such as snakes.
    While Squids which is more commonly know as Calamari live in the open waters in the ocean, Octopuses who are predators by the way, live in dens on the sea floor, thus they are known as “Bottom Feeders” .

  7. Octopus, definitely not like Squid, much, much tastier.

    Excellent source of high quality protein while VERY low in fat.

    Best eating; grilled with pure virgin olive oil and garlic. Serve with broccoli rob and Greek or Syrian olives.

    Culinary Delights from the Sea.

  8. Muscovia Marx from Bawston said

    You've never lived till you've tasted sauteed tarantulas with sauce meuniere. They're crispy and not slimy like Octopus. Just be careful the spines in their hairy legs don't get stuck in your tongue. they're murder to remove once embedded. Just like little fish hooks.

  9. Excellent recipe Mr. FreeThinke!

    even if it did bring back dreadful memories of a vigorous buggering I received while at sea from a squealy-voiced, pasty-faces jellyfish of a "man" who called himself (0)ct(0). And believe me, he really pronounced those parentheses! They slithered out of his mouth like a whisper from Satan himself.

    Me bum has recovered, it was only a slight prick anyway.

    Thank thee again for the recipe.


  10. This really is a wonderful recipe. I would never publish anything I haven't tried and thoroughly enjoyed, myself.

    Discovered in my wanderings there are numerous VIDEOS giving explicit instructions on how to clean and prepare Octopus and squid.

    Expect to see one or two surfacing here in the near future. There's enough material on the net to support a belief that a whole OCTOPUS CULINARY SUBCULTURE exists out there.

    I really do love the slithery creatures -- after they've been cooked -- , so I may make Octopus Recipes from Around the World a regular feature, and stage an ongoing Celebration of Cephalopod Cuisine.

    Sound like fun? ;-)

  11. Great sounding recipe, give us some more, please

  12. FT,
    I'm sure that this recipe is delicious.

    However, I don't think that I can eat octopus if I can see those suckers on the tentacles on my dinner plate.

    I can barely manage calamari and escargot.

    Lest you think that I'm terribly provincial, I do like bear meat and, of course, venison. Not fond of squirrel -- too sweet.

  13. PS: I'm absolutely certain that I couldn't prepare an octopus dish.

    PPS: Aren't octopi quite intelligent? I read that somewhere.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. Correcto mundo... octopi are intelligent.

  16. Ahem. My comments above don't refer to octopi who blog.

  17. The BLOGTOPUS to which you refer, AW, is a different breed -- one whose head is filled with deadly venom. It sports left-leaning tentacles, which is how one may identify it. It's taste is more bitter than gall, it's putrid flesh is toxic and will cause an unbearable burning sensation as it rips like iive coals through the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines as it slowly-but -surely kills any poor soul stupid and unfortunate enough to partake of its deadly flesh.

    Among the varied specimens of cephalopods skulking for prey in dark corners of the deep Octopus Sinistriensis, as the Left-Leaning Octopus is properly called, holds a stature in the world of cephalopods similar to that of the Death's Cap Angel in the world of fungi.

  18. Hedda Hayer said

    Hey! Did you know that Karl Marx wrote the manuscript of Das Kapital entirely in ink harvested from the heads of dead left leaning octopusses?

    It's a fact.

  19. FT,
    I just love your comment of October 28, 2014 at 6:47 AM


    Perfect! That's it, all right.



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