Mediterranean Octopus Salad

September 20, 2009
4 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Refreshing and light, this salad exposes the most exquisite taste and texture of the octopus due to its freshness and the few accompanying ingredients. What makes this salad so natural is that all the fresh components are local to the octopus' origin, sometimes even sold at the fishmonger's. According to Italian folklore, to get the meat as tender as possible, add a wine bottle cork into the simmering water.

Sasa and Jan

Test Kitchen Notes

Octopus if often sold in 3 and 5 pound packages. Ask your local fish monger if he's able to give you just 1 pound, or try to buy just the tentacles, which some fish counters sell. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the octopus:
  • 1 pound fresh, cleaned octopus, beak removed
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Salt
  • For the salad:
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, or the greens of several scallions or leeks, finely chopped
  • Juice from 1 lemon, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. For the octopus:
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer.
  3. Add all the above ingredients and cover.
  4. Let the octopus simmer for about an hour, or until tender but not over-cooked. To tell if the octopus is ready, use a tong to hold the tip of one of the tentacles and gently twist it—if it falls off easily, it's ready.
  5. Remove the contents from the pot, discarding the bay leaf, peppercorns and garlic, and rinse the octopus well with cold water.
  6. Cut each tentacle off of the octopus and slide the slimy pink layer off the tentacles and head, using your hands (much like the loose skin of a roasted red pepper), until left with a pinkish white meat.
  7. Cut the the entire octopus into cubes. The size is not very important since the meat should be very tender by now, but I recommend about one square centimeter in size.
  1. For the salad:
  2. Place the cooked octopus in a bowl.
  3. Add the parsley, onion, and lemon juice. Add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix well, cover, and leave to rest for at least an hour in the fridge.
  5. Serve chilled, however preferably not straight out of the fridge.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Martin A. Webber
    Martin A. Webber
  • Alyson
  • Russell66
  • torontogazman

7 Reviews

Alyson July 12, 2016
Octopuses are intelligent animals. Think about all the animals we don't eat because of their intelligence....horses, dolphins, chimps, dogs, elephants, cats. Maybe an octopus doesn't belong on our dinner plates.
emcsull July 13, 2016
pigs are not stupid either. Hard to know where to draw the line.
Alyson July 13, 2016
Good point. Lots of people draw the line at pigs.
Martin A. March 16, 2021
You're woke right?
Alyson March 16, 2021
Hello, could you say more about your questions Martin A.?
Russell66 May 17, 2016
I learned how to prepare octopus from a native of Galicia, Spain. This is the home of octopus fishing and famous enough for many dishes. What I was taught was to buy fresh octopus, freeze it for three days, thaw for three days then clean, remove the beak and pressure cook. The time required in the pressure cooker depends on the size but a one kilo fish takes about 15 minutes. You do not need much water in the cooker as the fish will provide quite a lot, add the spices from the recipe Once finished cooking follow the rest of the recipe.
torontogazman April 5, 2016
Any pictures of the cooking process? The instructions are difficult to decipher.