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The octopus is certainly an interesting sea creature. But in some parts of the world, octopus tentacles are incorporated into a wide range of dishes. If you aren’t familiar with eating octopus, you might not see the appeal in a plate of tentacles. Clearly, a lot of people like it, so what does octopus taste like?
Table of Contents
- What Does Octopus Taste Like?
- Where in the World Do People Eat Octopus?
- What About Octopus Texture?
- Are There Different Types of Octopus?
- Where Do You Find Octopus?
- How Do You Prepare Octopus?
- Try Something New
- Does Octopus Have Any Health Benefits?
- Octopus Taste FAQ
What Does Octopus Taste Like?
So does octopus taste good? Like with any meat, some people will love octopus and others will hate it. It’s hard to explain the exact taste.
Properly cooked octopus tastes like and develops a similar texture to lobster. However, the flavor may not be as strong and it is highly affected by the ingredients used in the cooking. Of all types of seafood, octopus is one of the most flavorless. It is incredibly bland and has no aroma. The taste is somewhat similar to that of calamari, but octopus is a lot more tender. Some people have compared the taste to that of chicken or pork.
The bland flavor may make octopus sound like a dull choice for a main dish. But the one good thing about something this bland is that it does incredibly well at picking up the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with. For that reason, most chefs will pair octopus with a flavorful fish sauce.
Where in the World Do People Eat Octopus?
Several areas of the world incorporate octopus into their cuisines. Octopus is very prevalent in Japanese sushi dishes. It’s also eaten regularly in Hawaii, as much of Hawaiian cuisine is Asian-influenced.
Octopus is often consumed raw in Korean cuisine. Some Korean restaurants serve small octopus species to be eaten alive. However, this practice has stirred a lot of controversy, as a live octopus is capable of feeling pain.
In the Maldives and coastal areas of Mauritius, octopus is also a common food. People on the Greek islands will catch an octopus, kill it, and hang it to dry in the sun before seasoning and grilling.
Unsurprisingly, grilled or cooked octopus is commonly found in the Mediterranean and surrounding areas, as the most flavorful species seem to live in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s common to cook octopus in Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, and Turkey. It even appears in some Italian dishes.
What About Octopus Texture?
With something as different as octopus tentacles, it’s understandable that you might worry about the texture. After all, a texture that’s unpleasant enough might mean you won’t enjoy eating octopus at all.
The texture of raw octopus is different than that of cooked octopus. It is somehow gelatinous and solid at the same time, kind of like Jell-O. The raw octopus taste is bland, and its slightly rubbery texture means it takes some time to chew. The suction cups will sometimes stick to your mouth and tongue — certainly a situation you would need to get used to.
When it’s cooked correctly, the texture is decidedly different — it’s softer and closer to the texture of a cooked lobster.
Are There Different Types of Octopus?
If you’re wanting to get into cooking octopus, you might be surprised to hear that there are a few different types you can choose from. Each has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to cooking:
African Octopus — This octopus species has especially soft meat. When properly prepared, it has quite a delicate flavor, too!
Chilean Octopus — This one isn’t ideal for cooking, so it may be harder to find in seafood markets. Its meat is not as tender as that of some other octopus types.
Galicia Octopus — This octopus has very tough skin, so it probably shouldn’t be served raw. It’s native to parts of the ocean that are deep and dark.
Spanish Octopus — Most people say that the Spanish octopus has the best texture and flavor. This type can be found in the Mediterranean Sea .
Where Do You Find Octopus?
You can’t buy octopus just anywhere, especially if you live in the West. But if you live somewhere with a fish market, you can check to see if they have any octopus.
Many specialty shops sell it online, too. Obviously, it’s best to use freshly caught octopus. But if you can’t find that, frozen octopus isn’t a bad option to choose.
If you want to avoid the hassle of making sure you cook it exactly right, you may be able to buy pre-cooked octopus. But if you’re in for culinary adventure it can be fun to prepare a new meat for the first time. In the next section, we’ll take a look at some of the many ways you can cook octopus from fresh or frozen.
How Do You Prepare Octopus?
If you have some fresh octopus and are looking to try out some of the cooking methods below, check out this video guide. It will show you how to prepare octopus to be cooked in almost any way.
Can I Cook Frozen Octopus?
Yes. In fact, especially if you’re new to this particular type of seafood, dealing with a fresh octopus can be a challenge. Buying a frozen, pre-gutted whole octopus is ideal. As a general guideline, two to three pounds of octopus will feed about four people.
The only difference between cooking frozen octopus and fresh octopus is that you need to thaw out a frozen octopus. The best way to do so is to place the frozen octopus in a bowl, cover it with a wet paper towel, and leave it in the fridge until it thaws fully.
Preparing for Cooking Octopus
If you don’t purchase an octopus that has already been cleaned, you will need to remove its outer membrane, ink sac, and stomach. Preparing the octopus for cooking is a little more involved than preparing most kinds of seafood. Since octopus flesh can be tough and dense, it’s a good idea to take steps to soften it before you proceed to cooking.
Some people recommend blanching the octopus in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Others suggest dipping it in water and then cooking it with some red wine in a moderately hot pan. Cooking time is variable depending on the size of the octopus and how you intend to cook it.
Making Roasted Octopus
This cooking method is one of the easier ones to do correctly. Especially the first time you make it, you want to avoid getting undercooked octopus or overcooked octopus!
To get just the right amount of doneness, cover the octopus before putting it in the oven. Bake it for 4-5 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Making Octopus Salad
If you’d like to create a colorful and intriguing dish, an octopus salad may be just what you need. You will just need tentacles for this recipe — not the whole octopus. Boil the tentacles for about two hours or until they feel tender. Once they have cooled, slice and clean them.
Now you can season them any way you like and place them atop a salad. You can first toss them in a dressing. Here are some ingredients we would suggest:
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Crushed garlic (or sauteed garlic)
- Onion, ideally sweet one like the Spanish Onion
You can substitute soy sauce and sesame oil to mix up the flavor if you wish. Add some red pepper for a little bit of kick!
Making Greek-Style Octopus
If you want to add some exotic flair to your next dinner, try making octopus Greek-style! This style has several steps, but it’s worth following.
To start, cook octopus tentacles in a pan with white vinegar or rise vinegar for about 50 minutes on medium-low heat. Make sure they become crunchy.
After that, fry them in olive oil in a very hot pan for about a minute. Then add tomatoes, garlic, and onions to the oiled pan and cook for a few minutes. Lastly, pour in the water used to boil the octopus originally. Add some honey, parsley, and pepper and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
Making Fried Octopus
If you just looked over how to make octopus as it’s typically cooked in Greece, you probably already have a sense of how to fry octopus. It’s pretty simple — cook the octopus or just the tentacles for about eight minutes per side in a very hot pan. Getting the timing right can be tricky; you want to get it hot enough that the skin starts to caramelize a bit, but not so hot that it gets burned.
Making Grilled Octopus
Grilled octopus is common in Greek dishes. When cooked well, it has a slightly crispy outside with a tender, juicy inside.
So what does grilled octopus taste like? The smoky, distinguishing taste makes it one of the best ways to prepare octopus on a tabletop grill, for example. But since this is a meat that really takes on the flavor of spices, make sure to marinate it first. If you use savory spices, the grilled octopus might go well with a sweet dipping sauce.
Try Something New
If you’re not an adventurous eater, you might balk at the idea of trying out this unique food. But it’s worth trying at least once in your life. After all, if you’re asking yourself “how does octopus taste?” the best way to find out is to try it yourself.
Does Octopus Have Any Health Benefits?
If you’re like most people, trying a highly unusual food can seem like a scary thing. Naturally, you probably want to know whether or not this unusual seafood can be beneficial to your health.
The good news is that octopus actually has quite an array of health benefits:
It’s a great lean protein —Four ounces of octopus has 93 calories, 17 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat. That makes it a great choice for athletes and anyone else looking to boost their dietary protein.
It’s an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids — Omega-3 fatty acids have a range of health benefits; they can help reduce your risks of heart attack and stroke, they have antioxidant properties, and they also may have beneficial effects for those dealing with mood disorder.
It’s rich in magnesium — An alarming number of people are deficient in magnesium. This useful mineral can help prevent cognitive decline, and it also may help regulate mood in some cases.
It’s full of vitamin B12 — Vitamin B12 is crucial to the functioning of many different bodily processes. It supports central nervous system function and red blood cell formation. Some research suggests that maintaining healthy levels of B12 reduces your risk of developing certain issues like osteoporosis and macular degeneration.
It’s a good source of iron, copper, and selenium — These minerals all support general health. In particular, selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can help to slow or prevent cell damage by harmful free radicals. Iron and copper both help to support the circulatory system.
Octopus Taste FAQ
Does octopus taste good?
Lots of people seem to think so. Usually, octopus is fairly flavorless, so it takes on the taste of whatever it’s prepared with. It will probably taste good if it’s prepared correctly and mixed with seasonings you like!
Does octopus taste rubbery?
Not when it is cooked properly. Well-cooked octopus will have a soft texture like a cooked crayfish. If the octopus is even slightly overcooked, it will start to take on an unpleasant texture that is rubbery and chewy.
Is octopus supposed to taste fishy?
No — octopus is known for having almost no aroma. And unlike most types of seafood, you don’t get a fishy flavor or taste of the sea when eating it.