Pulpo, polpo, or tako – there are a lot of names for octopus, but our favorite word for it is delicious. If you’re looking to incorporate this sensational seafood into your recipes, here are some pointers to get you started.
Because it comes from the sea, you might assume octopus has a fishy taste, but the reality is far from. Cooked octopus has a delicate meaty flavor, comparable to chicken or pork but with a hint of sweetness and an almost imperceptible brininess. When eaten raw, the sweet and salty undertones of the octopus are slightly intensified, but its flavor generally remains very mild.
When done right, cooked octopus is light, tender, and bouncy. Raw octopus or octopus sashimi, meanwhile, is slick, soft, and chewy. The suctions on the octopus tentacles generally have the same mouthfeel as the rest of the octopus meat, but add some pleasant textural interest.
Uses and Recipes
Octopus can be enjoyed raw, grilled, boiled, or stewed and works well with a wide variety of flavor combinations. Here are some international ideas to get you started.
Pulperias in Spain sell pulpo a la gallega, a dish of boiled octopus seasoned with sweet and spicy paprika and olive oil. In Greece, an octopus hanging in the sunlight is a common sight. After drying, it’s then grilled, seasoned, and added to salads. Meanwhile, in Italy, you can find octopus stewed with tomatoes and wine to make luxurious polipetti affogati.
Ensalada de pulpo is a fresh and bright octopus salad that can be found in both Mexico and Puerto Rico. The octopus is marinated in acid, ceviche style, and mixed with vegetables and herbs. You can enjoy this vibrant salad on its own, as a side, or over tostadas.
In Japan, octopus is made into takoyaki, a light and crisp dough ball filled with chopped octopus and topped with bonito flakes and an umami-packed sauce. For a twist on octopus sashimi, try muneo-sukhoe, a traditional Korean dish of blanched and sliced octopus dipped in salted sesame oil.