Yes, you can grill octopus without boiling it. Octopus is almost on every seafood lover’s list. It is not something you can only order at a restaurant. You can cook it at home as well. Whenever I want to serve an exotic dish to my guests, I always go for an octopus.
Moreover, Cooking an octopus does not require much hassle once you get the hang of it. My friends are always in awe whenever I serve them grilled octopus. There are always a bunch of questions regarding the recipe for grilled octopus.
In most cases, you need to boil the octopus for it to be tender. Only after boiling can you ultimately grill or sear the octopus.
Grill Octopus Without Boiling
To begin with, you should refrain from throwing the raw octopus into the grill directly. Octopus flesh is initially rubbery. To get rid of the rubbery flesh, you need to boil it for a certain amount of time.
An octopus has to be boiled until its tender before grilling. So, for those asking, “can you grill octopus without boiling?” the answer is a big No! Unless you like rubbery, burned, and shriveled tentacles.
For those who want to grill octopus at home but need help figuring out where to start, I am here to help you out. Follow the instructions given below to grill octopus at home.
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- Octopus (1kg)
- Olive oil (120ml)
- Bay leaves
- Oregano leaves(1 teaspoon)
Preparing the Octopus
When you buy an octopus, put in mind that the octopus will reduce in size while cooking. So, if you plan to serve the octopus as a main course, get a bigger size. One way to tenderize the octopus is to freeze it overnight.
Most often, you will find a frozen octopus in the supermarket. One of the cons of frozen octopus meat is it will tenderize when you thaw it. Make sure to defrost the meat and thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Clean the Octopus
Wash it in cold water, and ensure that all the grit is gone. Grab a sharp knife to cut the head. Be careful while cutting the octopus. Raw tentacles are very slippery, so make sure your hand is steady.
After that, remove the beak along with the eyes and separate the tentacles. If you want, you can also cut it after cooking. It is easier to cut the octopus that way.
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Tenderize before Cooking
There are other methods to help tenderize the meat aside from freezing. Most sushi chefs massage the tentacles for 20 minutes with salt. You only need to do this laborious work if you are a sushi chef. You can also try beating the octopus with the meat tenderizer.
Boil the Octopus
Add salt and herbs like coriander seeds, bay leaves, and garlic cloves in hot water. Then dip the octopus in the boiling water. Do it several times so that the tentacles curl up. Boil it with a lid on. Pierce the flesh with a fork to check whether the meat is ready.
It would be best to boil the octopus till it is tender to get great results. Boiling the octopus takes a considerable amount of time. The meat is rubbery because it is packed with cross-linked collagen.
Thus you need to simmer it for 1 hour. You can also use a pressure cooker. In that case, it will take up to 15-20 minutes. Cooking for a long time will make the meat mushy. On the other hand, cooking too little will make the meat tough.
Marinate the Octopus
After boiling; you should cool down the octopus in its cooking liquid. It is necessary to do that because the skin becomes very fragile after boiling. Even if you handle it gently, the skin might come off. Chilling the meat will help set the skin.
It depends on the individual’s choice of whether they want to keep the skin. Some may prefer the meat without the skin.
Cooling the octopus will help drain and dry excess liquid on its surface. It will only slow down the crisping and browning process if there is any liquid residue. You can use a towel to pat dry the meat. Also, letting the meat air dry for a few hours in the fridge can help.
When the meat has cooled down, you can start marinating. Marinate with olive oil, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, bay leaves, and coriander seeds. Put the marinated meat in a container and store it in the refrigerator.
Grilling the Octopus
Preheat the grill for 5 minutes. After that, oil the grilling grate. Lightly season with salt and drizzle olive oil all over the tentacles. Place the octopus on the grill for a few minutes on each side. Grill the tentacles until both sides have started to roast.
Grilling time will depend on the temperature of your coals. When the grilling is done, transfer them to a serving plate. You can have it as a whole or cut them into smaller pieces.
Do you need to blanch octopus?
Blanching octopus is a common cooking technique used to tenderize the meat and prepare it for various culinary applications. While it’s not always necessary, blanching can significantly improve the texture of octopus, making it more tender and palatable. Here’s a detailed explanation of why and how to blanch octopus:
Why Blanch Octopus:
Octopus meat can be tough and rubbery if not prepared properly. Blanching helps achieve the following benefits:
- Tenderization: Octopus has a high amount of collagen, which can make it tough when cooked directly. Blanching breaks down some of this collagen, making the meat more tender.
- Removes Unpleasant Aromas: Octopus can have a slightly fishy or briny odor. Blanching can help remove some of these odors and improve the overall flavor of the dish.
- Easy to Handle: Octopus often has a slippery and slimy texture. Blanching firms up the outer layer, making it easier to handle and cook.
How to Blanch Octopus:
- Cleaning: Start by cleaning the octopus. Remove the head and beak, and discard any innards. Rinse the octopus thoroughly under cold running water to remove any sand or debris. You may also want to peel off the skin.
- Boil Water: Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the octopus. Add a generous amount of salt to the water (about 1-2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water). The salt helps improve the texture and flavor of the octopus.
- Bring Water to a Boil: Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Blanch the Octopus: Carefully submerge the octopus into the boiling water. You can use tongs to do this to avoid splashing hot water. To ensure even cooking, you can tie the octopus tentacles together with kitchen twine.
- Cooking Time: The blanching time can vary depending on the size and thickness of the octopus. Small octopuses may only need 30 seconds to 1 minute, while larger ones may require 2-3 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the flesh firms up and turns opaque.
- Ice Bath: Once the octopus is blanched, immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process and helps maintain the texture and color.
- Drain and Use: After the octopus has cooled in the ice bath for a few minutes, drain it and pat it dry with paper towels. At this point, it’s ready to be used in your chosen recipe. You can grill, roast, sauté, or simmer the blanched octopus to complete your dish.
Remember that blanching octopus is not always mandatory. Some recipes, especially those involving long, slow cooking methods like sous vide or braising, may not require blanching. However, for quick-cooking methods like grilling or sautéing, blanching can make a significant difference in the final texture and flavor of the octopus.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What makes octopus chewy?
The cooking process of octopus is similar to squid. You can get a chewy texture if you cook the octopus for 5 minutes.
2. Can you eat octopus ink?
You can eat octopus ink, and humans often consume it. There is no harm in consuming it.
3. Does octopus smell when you cook it?
If the octopus is cooked properly, it should smell like decadent shellfish. However, the flavor is influenced by the ingredients used in it.
4. Do you eat the suction cups on the octopus?
Suction cups on the octopus are edible, and you should definitely eat them. You must only remove them after cooking as it is good for absorbing all the ingredients.
5. Is calamari squid or octopus?
People often confuse octopus with calamari. Many think that calamari is made from octopus, but it is, in fact, a type of squid.
6. What does a blanched octopus mean?
Blanched octopus means boiling the octopus in the water and poaching it for a few minutes.
You can eat your octopus raw, sauteed, grilled, or fried. It is up to you how you cook and like your octopus.
Cooked octopus from the supermarket is already boiled. Thus, you do not need to boil it again. Only by buying cooked octopus from the supermarket can you grill octopus without boiling it.