Grilled Octopus Salad with Konbu, Bamboo Shoots & Pickled Chiles

Baby octopus are not something I usually buy, so when I saw boxes of baby octopus on sale at T&T, it was like the Grilled Octopus Salad was meant to be. I’ve talked about not trusting T&T’s live seafood before, but frozen is frozen, and Chang even specifies that frozen baby octopus are fine in this salad.

What isn’t fine are the octopus themselves, frozen or not. I never knew I had a problem with octopus until I had to cook it. I’ve eaten and enjoyed octopus lots of times before, but I’ve never looked at it raw, except behind glass at various aquariums.

Octopus are disgusting. Their heads, their weird, shiny, mottled skin, their suckers. Brr. They make me shiver in disgust. I thought cooking them would make them more appealing, but it didn’t.

The octopus were braised whole in soy sauce, mirin, sake, and rice wine vinegar for 2 hours. After they were done, their mottled skin turned an unappetizing shade of purple, so instead of keeping them whole, I cut the tentacles off, removed their suckers and sliced up their heads.

After dismembering the octopus to make them look like delicious, harmless tentacles, I was ready to grill. The charred octopus was tender and super-umami packed from the 2 hour braise in soy sauce.

The varying crunchiness of the bamboo shoots and konbu were perfect with the slightly chewy octopus. The spicy, sour-sweet octo vinaigrette lightly dressed each slippery strand, packing this salad full of flavour. Now this is my kind of salad!

Note: Do not look at octopus photos on the internet. I thought baby octopus were bad, but the giant, larger than me ones are ten times worse. I couldn’t close my browser fast enough; I had to run away from my laptop and have Mike get rid of the octopus for me. He was nice enough to pull up some bunny pictures to calm my beating heart. I think I’ve created a phobia. Is it possible to find something delicious and be terrified of it at the same time?

13 Comments add yours

  1. You are brave! I remember buying and chopping up squid for the first time and even THAT grossed me out. I can’t imagine octopus – that just sounds 10x worse! I think it’s funny how you had to ask your husband to rescue you from the scary images on the computer. :) The salad looks fantastic, and I personally love octopus salad too.

    Jen,
    I was traumatized cutting up the octopus so when I saw giant ones, they really freaked me out! The salad was super-yum, hope you make it one day!

    steph on March 18th, 2010 at 11:34 am
  2. Sounds yum. Where did you get your bowls? Love those.

    Erica,
    The bowls are from Crate & Barrel and the salad was pretty yum!

    steph on March 18th, 2010 at 11:34 am
  3. Maybe squid or cuttlefish? They also come frozen.
    You make sure they are cleaned out, pull out the cartilage piece, and you can scrape the skin off. It goes fast, then you can cut it into rings or “steaks”.
    Then you don’t have to see the mottled skin. You have to separate the head anyways, so you don’t look at that.

    It has been a while since I ate octopus. But I think the flavor is similar to octopus. I know the cooking methods are the same.

    Andy,
    I love squid and don’t have a problem with them. I really think it’s the mottled skin that bothers me about octopus. But now that I’ve done it once, I can do it again!

    steph on March 18th, 2010 at 11:35 am
  4. Looks delicious! I will definitely be making this one.

    Great pictures once again!

    Bianca,
    Let me know how the salad turns out!

    steph on March 18th, 2010 at 11:35 am
  5. So great! I love octopus. They used to make me slightly squeamish — I think because they more or less retain their appearance as live critters. … They sort of look like they could swim away at any time (well, at least until you chop them up). They’re usually pretty cheap, too.

    Dan,
    I was surprised at how cheap they were! They’re probably cheap because people don’t like the way they look. How do you cook your octopus?

    Just on a smoking hot cast-iron frying pan with some salt, pepper and olive oil.

    Yum! I’ll have to try that out one day…or maybe waffled octopus?!

    steph on March 19th, 2010 at 10:48 pm
    dan on March 18th, 2010 at 2:12 pm
    steph on March 18th, 2010 at 11:38 am
  6. Please get over your disgust. octopuses are beautiful!

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