Charred Octopus (or “You ate what?”)

OK, I can talk big about being a foodie and an adventurous soul but when it comes to seafood, I am a bit squeamish.

I was born in Kansas and have spent the remainder of my life in Oklahoma—two totally landlocked areas.

When we had fish growing up, it was not “seafood” that was on the table but rather muddy catfish caught in a farm pond.      Occasionally we might make it to a seafood buffet where the only thing I would try was the fried shrimp.   Farm pond catfish is NOT like the catfish you buy or eat at restaurants.   Plainly put, it is gross.    Pair that with the overly dried out “been on the buffet forever” frozen fried shrimp and you too might have seafood phobia.

But, with The Hubs help (he who lived in New Orleans and Houston during his formative years), I have tried to eat more seafood and fish.   I haven’t gotten really crazy though and I usually stick with trout or red snapper.   It was only in the past year that I tried calamari.

So when I saw that Charred Octopus was one of the dishes on the menu for our Modern Italian Cooking Class, it was a wonder I signed us up at all.

The verdict?   It was delicious.   So tender and flavorful.   Yummy!   To die for!   Delectable!

Enough said.

Though I will never make octopus at home, I will definitely consider ordering it when out.    Chef Marcus says that we Okies can special order octopus from Bodean’s but that he actually picked his up frozen from an Asian market in Tulsa.   In fact, he said that frozen is better because the freezing breaks down the octopus and makes it more tender.

Charred octopus with smoked white bean puree, arugula with a preserved lemon vinaigrette, and cotechino sausage

Charred octopus with smoked white bean puree, arugula with a preserved lemon vinaigrette, and cotechino sausage

If you would like to make this at home (and you have an immersion circulator), I am providing Chef Marcus’ recipe here.

Sous Vide and Charred Octopus
from Chef Marcus Vause of Tavolo

1 octopus (3-5 lbs.)
1 gal. water
1 c. vinegar
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled

In a pot large enough to hold the octopus, heat the water and vinegar to boiling.   (The vinegar is used to “set” the octopus and make it curl.)   Gently place octopus in boiling water for 45 seconds.  Remove from water and place in ice bath to cool immediately.

Separate tentacles from body and each other, place in vacuum bag with carrot, onion, celery and garlic.   Vacuum seal.

Place bagged octopus in 185 degree water bath for 5 hours.   Remove from bath and place in ice bath to chill overnight.

Remove octopus from bag and discard bag, vegetables, and liquid.

Remove gelatinous membrane from tentacles and marinate in your favorite vinaigrette overnight.   (Chef Marcus used a preserved lemon vinaigrette.)

Remove tentacles from vinaigrette and grill over high heat until slightly charred.   Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chef Marcus  had the octopus already mostly prepared and ready to slap on the grill, so we didn’t get to see him clean  octopi.     I am assuming the “gelatinous membrane” refers to the head?!?!?!?!


Image from

Chef served this with a smoked white bean puree, arugula with a preserved lemon vinaigrette, and cotechino sausage.  To make the bean puree, he took cooked white beans, drained them and let them air dry a bit before putting them on a screen in the smoker for a bit of smoke.

He explained that cotechino is a Northern Italian fresh sausage that was traditionally flavored with cloves, allspice and “other warming spices,” stuffed in the actually leg skin of the pig.    Chef Marcus made his own cotechino  with pork belly and shoulder and  pork skin, stuffing it an a traditional casing.     The result was a mild and delicious sausage.

I wish he had shared his preserved lemon vinaigrette recipe with us.     I won’t make octopus or cotechino but I might have made the dressing!  🙂

Stay tuned for the next course:   Pasta Puttanesca.

To see all courses thus far from our cooking class with Chef Marcus, click here.



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