Baby Grilled Octopus is a tasty way to enjoy the bounty of the seas, and you don’t need to go to Greece or Spain to enjoy this octopus appetizer recipe! We enjoy this griddled seafood as part of our Australian Summer Bbq Feast!
Some people only order octopus in a restaurant because it seems to hard to make at home, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! People often link Greece, Spain and Mediterranean countries with tasty octopus recipes. Grilled octopus is sold all over the Mediterranean and is readily found in Greek and Spanish restaurants. This recipe is my Spanish twist to Grilled Octopus.
Here in Australia, our seafood markets all have frozen baby octopus, and yes, frozen octopus is exactly what this recipe needs! Plus frozen octopus is usually cleaned and ready to go! Don’t be intimidated by octopus!
Is Octopus Rubbery?
If you’ve never tried octopus, it will definitely have a rubbery texture. This is the nature of octopus. In Greece, it’s said that fishermen used to hit the octopus on a rock 30 times to tenderize it before cooking. There are different ways that people try to make it more tender, but I prefer it with a bit of a chew, it shouldn’t be a fall apart mushy seafood dish, and you want it to taste a bit chargrilled for extra flavor. Baby Octopus isn’t as tough and chewy as bigger octopus.
Do you soften baby Octopus?
There are a few different ways to soften octopus, and remember, this is for a baby octopus, not an adult octopus. For the regular large octopus, my tenderizing method will not work! As you see in the video, I didn’t spend any extra time boiling the baby octopus before grilling. This is because the octopus I buy is already frozen. This will make it more tender than fresh octopus from the ocean. Plus I marinate it for 24 hours with added salt and flavors, which add a bit more of tenderization.
This might be controversial, and there might be lots of comments who disagree, but it’s not always necessary to boil baby octopus before grilling! Yes, it will have a chewier texture, but it should as it is octopus and it will still taste absolutely delicious. If you prefer to boil it, just drop it into boiling water for about 2 minutes before you marinate it in the fridge.
This is the sure fire way to make sure it is tender, but remember, baby octopus is still tender enough and won’t be as tough as boot leather like a regular octopus. If you want tender, then just boil it. Other way is to use a wooden mallet and pound the octopus to tenderize each tentacle.
Tenderizing Grilled Octopus Tips
- Freeze it
- Marinate it
- Boil it
- Pound it
Any combination or all of the above can help your octopus be more tender and enjoyable to eat.
This is my favorite part of the recipe, how to marinate octopus. Some people keep it simple and just use olive oil with some herbs and salt, and that will taste good. I do all that, plus a bit more! This baby octopus recipe kicks it up another notch. My secret is to add chorizo sausage in with the marinade. I love Spanish Chorizo (which I buy at Costco) because it adds a smokiness, fattiness and spiciness to your marinade.
I also add in sliced fennel and garlic. Fennel adds a bit of a licorice flavor and adds texture to your serving meal. While not really necessary to mix in the fennel during the marinating process, you can just throw it into the mix before grilling. I find it’s easier to mix it all together the night before and you are ready to grill the next day. You want to marinate it at least overnight, and up to 24 hours in advance. I don’t add any lemon or wine to the marinade, as this doesn’t really tenderize it, but makes it a bit tougher in my opinion. Save the fresh lemon to squeeze when serving!
To prepare the octopus, some people separate the head and the tentacles, that’s up to you. Sometimes it comes apart naturally anyways while grilling. Baby octopus may look a bit big while raw, but trust me, it shrivels up quickly when it is cooking.
How to Grill Octopus
This is the easy part, I have a flat griddle plate on my bbq which I use to grill the octopus. Technically, I am making Griddled Octopus. The cast iron grill is spaced too far apart for these ingredients, so it’s done on a griddle plate. All Australian bbqs are sold with ½ a grill plate and the other ½ a griddle plate, so it's a common way to bbq here. If you don’t have a griddle or flat plate, you can use a cast iron griddle pan on the stove, just heat it up as hot as you can, before adding the octopus.
I throw all the marinated ingredients in together to be cooked at the same time. As the chorizo releases its fragrant smokey oils, all the ingredients grill together in the rich, smoky and spicy flavor. The cooking time for the octopus and chorizo is the same, as long as you don’t cut the chorizo too thinly. I chop them up into about 1” pieces. The main thing is to ensure the octopus is cooked properly, and if the chorizo is a bit crispy, that’s ok, it just adds more flavor.
How long do you grill octopus? I recommend for about 5-10 minutes until the octopus is ready. It really does depend on the heat of your bbq or stovetop griddle pan.
Grilled Octopus Recipe Tips
- Marinate overnight
- Buy frozen baby octopus
- Don’t skip the chorizo and fennel, this is the secret to this recipe's flavor
- If you don’t have a bbq, use a cast iron griddle frying pan
- Serve with fresh lemon wedges
- Serve immediately after cooking, as it cools down, it will taste more rubbery and is best served hot
This is the perfect Mediterranean summer seafood bbq appetizer, griddled baby octopus with smoky chorizo, garlic and fennel. You have to taste it to believe how delicious this is! An easy seafood recipe that will impress your guests, perfect for lunch, as a meze or appetizer or just as your main dinner meal! Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- 2 lbs/ 1kg baby octopus
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ head of fennel sliced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 chorizo sliced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ chili pepper
- Mix together the baby octopus, garlic, fennel, olive oil, chorizo, chili, parsley and salt into a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge to marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat the bbq grill plate on high heat. Spray grill with cooking spray.
- Place the octopus mix on the grill turning them over after a few minutes. The octopus will start to shrivel and curl up. It will take about 10 minutes until the octopus is cooked through, depending on the heat of your grill. Turn heat down if it starts to burn.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges.