Every time I post grilled octopus on one of my social media pages, I always get asked if I boil it. My answer? No. Why? Well, I think it tastes better when it isn't boiled prior to hitting the grill. Pre-boiling will not guarantee a tender and tasty grilled octopus. It'll guarantee a tasteless one. I know there will be lots of people (who boil) that may not agree but I think it's time they tried grilling it my way. Then decide.
The next grilled octopus question I get asked a lot is...."How do I know it's ready?" Grilled octopus needs more time on the grill than calamari and most seafood. The biggest mistake made is taking it off the grill too early. It should be 'probe tender'! If you probe the octopus and there's resistance....it's not ready. Just like the good old brisket! You may have heard 'probe like butter' for brisket.....a perfectly grilled octopus will probe the same.
I've been grilling octopus since I was 10 years old. Is it easy? I wouldn't say it's super easy or hard but it takes patience to perfect the art of grilling octopus and achieving a tender result. That's for sure! Once perfected, it's the yummiest and most impressive seafood dishes.
If you fail the first time or have never been successful grilling tender octopus, try my tips. Not one or two of them....all of them!
Tips For Grilling Octopus
1. Freeze fresh octopus for a minimum of 24 hours, if it hasn't been frozen prior. If it has been frozen previously when you buy it, allow it to fully defrost, pat it dry with paper towel before marinating it.
2. Always use an acidic ingredient like lemon juice/white wine vinegar etc in the marinade. Did you know that 1 tablespoon of kiwi (yes the fruit!) puree also acts as a tenderiser?
3. Massage the octopus for at least 10 minutes with the marinade. This also helps tenderise. It's worth asking your fishmonger if the octopus has been tenderised in a 'tumbler'.
4. Allow octopus to reach room temperature before placing it on a hot grill. This is so important! I have seen so many people take it out of the fridge and then straight onto the grill. Don't do that!
5. Until you have perfected the art of grilling octopus, use a digital meat thermometer. The internal temperature of cooked octopus should measure between 150f (65c) and 160f (71c) when ready to be removed from grill. Don't under cook it! The connective tissue won't start breaking down until 130f (54c).
6. The grilled octopus should be probe tender when it's ready to come off the grill. It's this tip I want you to remember more than any of these.There shouldn't be too much resistance when removing a probe, if the octopus is ready.
Grilled Octopus Recipe
500 grams cleaned and skinned frozen octopus that has been defrosted.
(make double quantity and save some for basting whilst the octopus is on the grill)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Place octopus on a bowl (tentacles attached).
- Add all marinade ingredients except lemon juice and white wine vinegar.
- Massage the octopus for at least 10 minutes with the marinade. This helps tenderize.
- Allow octopus to marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge. After 3 hours add the lemon juice for the last hour.
- Preheat grill. For gas, medium/high. For charcoal, grill directly over charcoal.
- Grill for 15 minutes before turning and cooking a further 15 minutes - depending on size.
- The internal temperature of octopus should measure between at least 150f (65c) and 160f (71c) when ready to be removed from grill. It should be probe tender, meaning a probe should go in easily and with little, if any resistance.
- Place grilled octopus in foil for 2-5 minutes before eating.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the grilled octopus and enjoy.
When you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram - Come Grill With Me so I can check it out.
Love, Irene XO