Mediterranean Octopus Salad

September 20, 2009
Photo by Linda Xiao
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

  • Serves 4
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.
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