Last Updated on 20th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
If you want try an intimidating meat to prepare, try to cook octopus. There are a lot of different methods available online for how to cook octopus, but the problem is that a lot of people simply don’t know how.
I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult meat to work with, but you do need to be careful that you don’t rush through it. People who don’t take their time cooking octopus end up with tough meat that takes way too much work to chew through. When it’s cooked well, it is quite soft and tender.
How Do You Cook Octopus?
It’s not difficult to cook this meat, and I’ll show you a simple method for how to cook octopus.
The following directions are for about 2-3 pounds of octopus. You may need to make adjustments if you are cooking more or less than that amount.
Start by choosing quality octopus- fresh and cleaned. If it isn’t cleaned, you can do that yourself, by washing it and taking out the ink sac and internal organs. You do that by making a cut around the beak using a sharp knife like a paring knife. Once you make that cut, you can pull the beak off, along with the organs that are attached to it.
The put the octopus in a pot with enough water to just cover it, which should take about 3-5 quarts of water. Heat the water on medium high until the water starts to simmer, and then lower the temperature to low or medium low. You want the temperature of the water to be at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit as it simmers, and then cook the octopus at that temperature for 1-2 hours.
How Long to Cook Octopus?
How do you tell if the octopus is done cooking? You can poke it with a knife, inserting at the point where the legs and head meet. If the knife slides in without resistance, then it is done cooking. If you have trouble inserting the knife, then the octopus needs to cook for longer.
It can be served at that point or put on the grill or in a skillet to cook up a little longer to achieve a browned look so it doesn’t appear so raw. However, the boiled octopus is safe to eat without having to do that.
How to Cook Octopus Tentacles
You can purchase just the tentacles of the octopus and cook them up to slice or use them whole to go with salad or pasta or to put in soup. How do you cook just the tentacles?
You can use the same cooking method above, covering them in water in a pot on the stove and then cooking them at a low simmer until they are tender enough to pierce easily with a knife. That should take about an hour.
How to Cook Baby Octopus
Baby octopus is much smaller than the full-size octopus you can purchase at a seafood market, and they cook up quicker since they aren’t as dense. Let me give you a method for how to cook baby octopus on the stovetop that isn’t very complicated.
Start by cleaning the octopus off, or octopi, if you have a few of them. Rinse then first and then cut the head off using a lengthwise cut. Take off the beak and everything that is pulled out with that, which should include the internal organs. The head can be fully separated, or you can cut to just focus on the beak.
You can spritz the octopus with lemon juice to help season it and then heat up some olive oil in a skillet. Cook up sliced onion and garlic in there to flavor the octopus, and once those have browned, add in your octopi whole. Usually, you won’t cook up a whole octopus at once, but this method for how to cook whole octopus works with baby octopi.
As the octopus cooks in the oil at a medium heat, add in salt and any herbs you want to include, like rosemary or thyme. As the octopus cooks, you should be stirring it gently every so often.
How long to cook baby octopus? You can cook it for about 7 minutes, or more if it needs it. You can always cover the skillet to help to cook faster, if it seems like it is taking too long to become tender.
How to Cook Frozen Octopus
What if you are working with frozen octopus and you want to know how to cook that up? The good thing about frozen octopus is that it is always cleaned ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about removing the beak and innards. That’s why it looks a bit different from some fresh octopus you might find in the fish market.
The frozen octopus cooks really well, becoming tender more easily than fresh octopus. You should allow the octopus to thaw out completely before you try to cook it up, though. As it thaws, to will start to tenderize, and you can use the same cooking methods I gave you above.
Just expect it to take less time to cook up once it is thawed as opposed to fresh octopus.
How to Cook Octopus for Ceviche
Ceviche is a Spanish dish that is fairly simple to prepare. It is octopus cooked in spices, seasonings and veggies that work together to make a bland meat really tasty. How to cook octopus Spanish style?
After you clean the octopus, you can slice it up into small, round pieces or cook the octopus in large chunks and slice it later. The smaller tentacles can be left un-sliced, if you prefer.
Cook the octopus pieces in boiling water for about 30 minutes. You bring the water to aboil and then add the octopus and let it cook at a medium heat for half an hour. Then, put it in a bowl with all of your seasonings and veggies and let that marinate in the fridge for about an hour, and you will have tasty octopus ceviche.
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here