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How to Prepare and Cook Octopus

Updated on July 27, 2009

Octopus may be prepared in a variety of ways

While octopus is quite famous and prepared all along the Italian boot, more and more people are in the process of discovering octopus for the first time. With this increase in interest, from humble origins, now octopus has upgraded its status and can be savoured in even some quite sophisticated restaurants. While some people may find octopus to be quite intimidating, those that are bold enough to give it a try, often discover a great tasting food that offers a new twist in many recipes.

In the United States it is quite rare to find fresh octopus. Most octopus is cleaned and frozen before being shipped to local retailers. This is good because octopus spolis very quickly and preserves its qualities well even when frozen.

Preparing octopus may be also quite intimidating for newbies. If this is the case, should you be blessed to have your hands on fresh octopus, you can have your fishmonger clean and prepare the octopus for you, so all you would have left to do would be simply cooking it. However, if you want to give the whole preparation a try, you may do so by following some simple instructions.

1) Turn the octopus inside out just as you would do with a pair of socks.

2) Clean the octopus under warm running water for approximately one minute.

3) Remove the beak (little hard ball found at the center), the eyes and the ink sack.

4) Turn the octopus right side out again.

5) Boil the whole octopus in enough water to cover it entirely. Most octopus cook within one hour. A good way to determine if it is ready is by inserting a knife blade where the octopus head meets the legs. If the blade yields with no resistance the ocytopus is done.

6) Rinse the octopus in cold water and remove the slimy parts.

No matter what way you will prepare the octopus it must be boiled first. Once boiled therefore, you can proceed to the selected recipes.

There are various tricks of the trade to ensure that the octopus remains tender. Many people state they unlike to eat octopus because of its rubbery consistency. However, when cooked properly octopus may turn out being surprisingly tender. Following are some tips to prevent eating rubber sole tough octopus.

-Do not overcook the octopus. The more it cooks the more likely it is to toughen.

-Greeks like to beat the octopus against a rock in order to tenderize the flesh.

-Italians may cook it with two corks.

-Some cooks recommend boiling the octopus with half chopped potato.

-Freezing or pounding the meat may help yield tender flesh.

Once cooked, octopus can then be prepared in a variety of ways. You can boil it and serve it cut up in a salad, you can serve it warm with a sauce of parsley, oil and red hot pepper, you can make a sauce and serve it on spaghetti or you can grill on your grill. The possibilitiesare many, so visit your local market and discover octopus. You may be surprised.

Cooked octopus

Vigo Octopus in Soy and Olive Oil, 4-Ounce Cans (Pack of 10)
Vigo Octopus in Soy and Olive Oil, 4-Ounce Cans (Pack of 10)

Octopus in olive oil

Easy to open

High protein

Tender and flavorful



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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I hope your dish turns out well! We just bought some frozen octopus and will be cooking it and making a refreshing summer salad.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      I love octopus but have never tried to cook it--I have always feared that it would end up like rubber bands. With your encouragement I just might give it a try. Thanks for an interesting hub. Voted up.

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      Great hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Michael 6 years ago

      Just caught a nice fresh Octopus down the rocks where I live in Australia. I think I'm going to give both the 2 dishes mentioned above a try. Thanks guys!

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 7 years ago

      I love octopus. It's a great appetizer during the lent holiday. I boil it, remove the slimy layer, then slice. I sauté some onion, crushed garlic, peppercorns and green salad olives in olive oil for a couple of seconds and then I pour it in a bowl with the octopus. Mix together and let stand for about one or two hours then serve with green bananas. Bon Appetite!

    • profile image

      Meagan 8 years ago

      I go to an oriental market and buy frozen octopus. Then thaw and separate. That way I have enough for a meal at a time. I than wash it and cook it with butter, pepper and a little seasoning salt. After that I add it to a noodle kit. Taking a side dish of noodles and adding vegetables and octopus for a meal. It is pretty good. I usually cook it until the butter starts to turn a little purple. This way it is cooked, but not over done and chewy.

      Good Luck!!

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 8 years ago from South of France

      I adore eating octopus but have never tried preparing or cooking it myself - must pluck up the courage some time!