Marinated in juicy LemonGold seedless lemon juice and olive oil, nothing says al fresco eating quite like my recipe for grilled baby octopus.

When it comes to eating, I’m all about choice. Mezze, tapas, pintxos – an array of small dishes designed for sharing is my idea of dinner well spent. Throw in a few glasses of wine and a table set al fresco and one has the immediate atmosphere of a Mediterranean holiday – albeit at home. 

It was in this mindset that I developed a very simple but undeniably delicious recipe for grilled baby octopus. Octopus itself is the ideal carrier for myriad flavours but I wanted this recipe to highlight this celebrated cephalopod’s delicate, almost buttery taste and texture. Enter the uncomplicated combination of green chilli, garlic and juicy . The addition of parsley, and rosemary lend their verdant freshness whilst  conveniently seedless citrus makes for easy squeezing. 

Marinated in a generous amount of EVOO before being grilled over the coals, the occies take on a smoky sapidity – enhanced with a brush of rosemary and a drizzle of lemon. Serve them as you wish – in my case, with creamy tzatziki or a dab of mayonnaise piqued with hot sauce. The wine needs to be chilled, a table set outside and crusty bread close at hand. My kind of meal.

Grilled Baby Octopus

Prep time: 30 mins /Cook time: 10 mins /Serves: 2-4

You will need:

  • 500g – 1kg frozen baby octopus, defrosted and drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • The juice & zest of a lemon
  • 50ml olive oil
  • Sea salt and coarse ground black pepper
  • Extra lemon for squeezing over

Octopus is a fickle ingredient to work with – incorrectly cooking it can result in a rubbery texture. For this recipe, I use a simple blanching method to ensure a tender bite.

Set a pot of water to boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and place the defrosted baby octopus into the water for 1 minute exactly. Remove the octopus from the water and plunge into an ice bath. Drain the octopus and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped garlic, chillies, herbs and lemon. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the olive oil. Stir the marinade and add in the blanched octopus, coating it in the infused olive oil. Leave the octopus to marinate for an hour. Thread the baby octopuses on to metal skewers and braai over medium coals for 3-4 minutes per side. The octopuses should be lightly browned, even a little blackened. While the octopuses are braaing, squeeze over a little extra lemon juice.

Serve the baby octopus with a creamy tzatziki sauce and lots of crusty bread for mopping up the leftover marinade.


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