Octopus is a delicacy enjoyed around the world, but what does octopus taste like? Many people have never tried octopus before and don’t know what to expect when they take their first bite. This article will help provide some clarity on this interesting culinary topic.
An octopus is one of the many wonders of the sea. But did you know that in some countries, octopus is a delicacy? You’re not alone if you didn’t know it was edible until reading this.
The octopus, or cephalopod, is a versatile and flavorful ingredient in many international cuisines.
Before anything else, we’d like to clear out that the word “octopus” has several accepted plural forms. Octopi, octopodes, and octopuses are all acceptable plural forms. To avoid confusion, we’ll use octopuses throughout this article.
Octopus is a type of mollusk, which belongs to the class Cephalopoda. They are invertebrates with soft bodies and eight arms.
Octopuses are found in all oceans of the world, from shallow waters to depths of thousands of meters. They can blend into their surroundings by changing color, texture, and shape.
In Japan, the octopus is most commonly served as Takoyaki – grilled balls of batter filled with diced octopus.
In Portugal, Polvo á lagareiro is a popular dish of boiled octopus with potatoes, garlic and olive oil.
In Greece and Turkey, octopus is often served grilled or boiled and dressed with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, oregano and salt.
In South Korea, Octopus is a common ingredient in Jeon – a savory pancake usually filled with seafood such as shrimp, squid and octopus.
Octopus is also an essential ingredient in many Spanish recipes, such as Pulpo a la Gallega and Octopus with Potatoes.
The octopus can also be prepared in a variety of other ways – steamed, boiled, barbecued, stir fried or even cured.
An octopus is a cephalopod, a mollusk with its limbs directly connected to its head. And despite popular belief, octopuses don’t have tentacles. What they really have are arms.
Anatomically, a tentacle only has suckers on its tips. Since the appendage of an octopus has suckers all over it, it is an arm.
This marine creature has a bulbous body, bulging eyes, and a mouth in the middle of its arms. But, instead of having teeth, an octopus has a beak. This beak is the only hard part of its body, which it uses to tear apart the shells of crustaceans.
These animals can also change color at will. They do this to blend with their surroundings and avoid prey. And, like squids, they can shoot out black ink if they feel in danger.
Another unique thing about an octopus is that its arms have separate control systems. They can move without any command from the animal’s brain.
Octopuses also bite and release venom as they do so. But out of all the species, only the blue-ringed octopus has deadly venom.
For this reason, people have been eating octopuses safely for years. You can buy fresh or frozen octopus in wet markets or grocery stores.
Like any other food, the taste of octopus depends greatly on how you cook and eat it. Even when it sounds weird, you can eat octopus without cooking it. And the taste differs compared to a cooked one.
When raw, octopus tastes faintly like the sea. It is not fishy; instead, it has a slightly salty and sweet flavor. But this flavor is so mild that some people will say that an octopus does not have its own flavor.
For this reason, it is common for people to use dips and sauces to make the raw octopus tastier.
A cooked octopus maintains its subtle and mild, sweet and salty flavor. It tastes like a mild version of squid and lobster; some say the flavor is like pork and white chicken meat.
One notable thing about octopus is that it absorbs other flavors well. Because of this, cooking octopus with seasonings will make it taste like the seasonings you used.
The method of cooking also matters. When boiled as an ingredient in soups, the octopus will take on the seasonings in the soup. But once you fry it, the octopus flavor will intensify, giving you more flavorful seafood.
If the octopus is still young and small, all of its parts are edible.
But in bigger octopuses, only the arms and the body are edible. People remove the beak, the ink sac, and the intestines before cooking them.
People also usually discard the eyes even when they’re edible.
Frozen octopus is already clean, so it is usually ready to cook in that state. You’d have to get your hands dirty if you have your hands on a fresh, uncleaned octopus. Fair warning: the process can be messy.
Here are the steps to prepare octopus for cooking:
Before doing anything else, wash the whole octopus in cold running water. Doing so removes any debris that may cling to its surface.
Divide the octopus into 3 parts. Make a cut above and below the eyes, then discard the eyes.
In smaller octopuses, sectioning is optional. Again, the eyes are edible, but most people discard them.
In a small octopus where you skipped sectioning, you need to cut at the base of the head. Then, using your index finger, remove the contents of the body until it is empty.
In bigger octopuses, turn the sac-like body inside out to get a clear view of the insides. Pull the contents gently. They should easily come off without much force and in one piece.
You’ll find the beak in the middle of the tentacles. Push it outside and gently pull it to remove it. You can also make a circular cut around it to take it off.
Rinse the body and the arms once again. This time, ensure that each of the suckers does not have dirt inside.
Squeeze each sucker until whatever debris inside comes out. This process can be tedious, but it is necessary to ensure a squeaky-clean octopus.
Slice each arm off until you have 8 separate pieces. Depending on their length, you might also have to cut across the arms to yield shorter pieces.
The skin is edible, but some prefer peeling it off because of its gelatinous texture. To peel, grab a small portion of the skin and pull it gently from the body. It should come off easily.
In smaller octopuses, you can cook the head can cook as a whole. Or, you can cut the bodies of bigger octopuses across and make rings instead.
Octopus is a versatile seafood you can eat in many ways. As mentioned, you can eat it raw or cook it. They are the perfect ingredients for soups and stews. Chopped and boiled octopus pieces also make great pasta toppings and salad ingredients.
Here are some of the recipes that include octopus.
In South Korea, live octopus is a delicacy they call san-nakji. This name literally translates to “live octopus.”
It is common to find restaurants serving small octopuses on a platter while they are still alive. Diners then wrap the freshly-caught octopus around a chopstick and eat them whole.
Remember that it is rubbery when uncooked, so chewing it takes work. And since the octopus is slimy and wet, it is also challenging to swallow. Not to mention the animal uses its suckers to stick itself into your mouth as you try to eat it. Eating san-nakji this way is quite an experience, for sure.
For this reason, it is still true to its name, san-nakji. Restaurants serve them with sesame oil as a dipping sauce and other garnishes.
Takoyaki is a dish of grilled octopus balls famous in Osaka, Japan. To make this, you begin with a dashi-flavored flour batter. Mix in green onions, pickled ginger, tempura scraps, and diced octopus.
Then, grill the batter in a special takoyaki pan with holes. Once cooked, you top the balls with a special takoyaki sauce and Japanese Mayo.
Then, sprinkle dried bonito flakes, dried green laver seaweed, and pickled red ginger.
Okonomiyaki is a grilled pancake. It uses the same recipe as takoyaki but with extra ingredients. These pancakes have shredded cabbage, grated Chinese yam, pork, and cheese.
Some people like adding squid and shrimp too. You can add almost anything you like to okonomiyaki. After all, okonomiyaki comes from the words “okonomi,” which means “whatever you want,” and “yaki,” meaning grilled.
This Portuguese dish takes hours to cook, but the results are worth it.
You begin making it by pre-cooking the octopus, either by boiling or braising it. Note that fresh octopus shrinks when cooked, so expect a change in size at this point.
You then grill the pre-cooked octopus over charcoal. Finally, you pour a special sauce over the perfectly-grilled octopus and serve it with lemon wedges.
No. Octopus has a mild flavor that is reminiscent of lobsters and squids. People also compare the flavor of octopus to pork and white chicken meat. On the other hand, steak is beefy, so an octopus tastes nothing like it.
It can be. The famous Polvo Grelhado is a Portuguese dish of grilled pre-cooked octopus. But octopus is a part of many dishes worldwide, including South Korea’s san-nakji and Japan’s takoyaki.
Octopus does not taste as rich as squid, but it is sweeter. However, the question of whether one tastes better than the other depends on your taste. If you like mild flavors, then octopus will taste better for you. But squid is a better fit for you if you want stronger flavors.
To check the doneness of an octopus, do a knife test. Poke the thickest part of the octopus with a paring knife and observe. An undercooked octopus is tough and won’t give in easily. Meanwhile, you have a well-cooked octopus if the knife goes in without much resistance.
Eating octopus is a culinary experience that’s like no other. No wonder this seafood finds its way into some of the world’s tastiest dishes. But what does octopus taste like?
The taste of raw octopus will remind you of the sea; it is sweet and salty – but not fishy. An octopus does a great job of absorbing flavors so cooking it with seasonings works. After all, an octopus has a very mild taste of its own.