This recipe for Grilled Octopus with Lemon Pepper Seasoning is the perfect gourmet-style meal for your next food adventure!
Are you feeling adventurous? Let’s talk octopus.
That’s right, those eight-legged sea monsters that spend their days looking like they’ve escaped from a Jules Verne novel. The spineless, fascinating creatures that can fit through any space they can squeeze their jaw bones through.
Well, my friends, those leggy beasts are also completely and utterly delicious.
The husband talked me into buying one on a Jungle Jim’s trip, and that’s how our invertebrate obsession began. This recipe for Grilled Octopus with Lemon Pepper Seasoning is easy, and sure to leave you with a tender and flavor-packed meal.
Here’s the thing about octopus– it can either melt in your mouth, or taste like little bits of rubber if overcooked.
If you’ve ever had calamari, you’ve already eaten squid. Octopus has a similar texture. As with calamari, if your octopus is chewy, it’s probably been overcooked. It should fall apart in your mouth.
How to Cook Octopus
Octopus should be cooked low and slow or hot and fast. For this recipe, we’re doing a combination of both techniques.
This grilled octopus is actually cooked twice– once braised on the stove top over low heat to tenderize it, and then cooked very quickly at high heat (on the grill or in a hot pan).
It will take around an hour to prepare start to finish, but most of that is very hands-off.
I find it’s easier (if I’ve planned ahead), to braise it the day before, and then just grill or pan sear it quickly before dinner the next day.
How Much Octopus Should I Buy?
You can serve one smaller, whole octopus per person, or cut a larger one into pieces and divide it up between plates.
Will Adding a Wine Cork to the Braising Liquid Keep The Octopus Tender?
Maybe? It’s an old wives’ tale, and I’ve never done it. That said, it won’t hurt a thing, so if you want to– go right ahead.
Just make sure you’re using a CORK wine cork, and not a plastic one.
Does Dipping the Octopus Tentacles in Hot Water Really Make them Curl?
Yes! Yes it does.
If you want to take this extra step, dip the tentacles quickly in and out of a pot of very hot water before grilling or searing.
How to Grill or Sear Octopus
First, braise the octopus. Then, you’ll want to cook it quickly over very high heat. You can add it to a pre-heated, extra hot grill, or to a piping hot pan.
Want more tips about how to grill seafood? Check out this post on How to Grill Fish!
Serve the octopus right away, and enjoy this fabulously freaky seafood!
Grilled Octopus with Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- ~1 1/2 lbs octopus (either 2 smaller or 1 larger octopus)
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup whole peppercorns
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 TB olive oil
- lemon or orange wedges for serving
- In a large heavy pot (such as a cast iron Dutch oven), place octopus, wine, peppercorns, lemon cut in half, salt, bay leaves, and garlic. Add water until octopus is covered with water by 1" (or try-- it will float).
- Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce to simmer, and cook octopus until tender. Cook time will depend on the size of your octopus- a half pound octopus should take about 40 minutes, and a 1 lb may take closer to 55 minutes. Octopus is done when you can pierce the skin easily with a fork or knife. Do NOT continue to cook- overcooked octopus becomes rubbery.
- Drain and allow octopus to come to room temperature, OR replace lid and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook (cook within a day).
- Preheat a charcoal grill to high heat. Brush octopus with olive oil. Grill on very hot grill until browned- about 3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon or orange wedges.
To pan sear:
- Heat olive oil on medium high heat until oil ripples. Sear octopus about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon or orange wedges.
Recipe adapted from: Serious Eats