Octopus Spring Salad

Octopus is everywhere, so it’s a global ingredient. The preparations country by country are all diverse and delicious in their own unique ways. Hot, cold, warm – it doesn’t matter. Kimchee tako poke, ensalada de pulpo, escabeche, takoyaki, nakji bokkeum, ceviche de pulpo… it’s all good. This week, we’ll be preparing a healthy, and equally delicious octopus spring salad.

Going from square one right off the boat or kayak, octopus cleaning and preparation can be intimidating. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that they are slimy and slippery; you just have to get in there. From separating the mantel to removing the beak to cleaning to breaking down and tenderizing, it’s a new learning curve. Things can go sideways quickly if the end result isn’t tender. There are all sorts of suggested techniques, from soaking it in milk, to slow cooking in the oven at low heat, to pounding, to simmering. That said, preparing a raw octopus is a whole ‘nother write-up and right now we’re just focusing on the octopus and the recipe.  

On a positive note, because our amazing local fishmongers are so customer oriented, most people will just pay for prepared octopus that’s already tenderized and cooked by the pros. It’s clean, fresh, prepared, and ready to be turned into whatever is on your menu. That’s what’s going on today. 

Next Recipe: Rockfish Pilaf with Chard

Because octopus is so mild in flavor, it’s really just a texture thing and it serves as a vehicle to carry whatever flavors you want to taste. So, whether you want to take the Octopus to Portugal, Italy, Greece, Japan, Spain, Hawaii, Korea, Mexico, or elsewhere, it’ll serve you well. As long as you have tender octopus, it’s pretty hard to mess it up. In other words, it’s forgiving.  

While I love all of the intense flavors that most popular preparations kick out, today is going to be light, bright, and packing a different kind of punch. The sun’s out, the garden is popping, and the fish are biting, which means Spring is here and we’re feeling it. It’s going to have char-grilled flavor mixed with a little sweet, a little bitter, a little acid, and a little heat. You’re not going to get super full, so my suggestion is serving this as an appetizer, and then go from there. As always, no rules… feel free to run with this recipe in any direction you want. I’ve got the suggestions, but in the end, it’s your vision. Final chef’s note – if you have larger pieces (i.e., whole legs), I recommend editing the recipe heavily to showcase the octopus. Perhaps narrow it down to octopus, frisée, fennel, oranges, and the dressing. If you have a high quality, whole ingredient, don’t hide it. In some cases, less is certainly more.  

octopus spring salad ingredients
grilled octopus
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Recipe: Octopus Spring Salad

Recipe: Octopus Spring Salad


  • Cooked octopus cut into bite sized pieces - amount based on guests
  • B & O Meyer Lemon EVOO
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Charcoal grill
  • Arugula and/or frisée salad (aka: chicory)
  • A dozen small yellow potatoes - boiled, cooled and halved
  • ½ fennel bulb - thinly sliced into ¼ moon pieces
  • 2 blood oranges - peel and cut the orange out of the bitter white portions (or use ½ can of mandarin oranges to simplify)
  • A dozen golden berries - halved
  • A dozen cherry tomatoes (color variety) - halved
  • 1 red Thai chili (or other chili of preference - i.e., Fresno)
  • Microgreens - I use Meyer Micros
  • ¼ cup B & O Persian Lime EVOO
  • 2 TBSP B & O Grapefruit Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBSP white wine (I use Ziobaffa pinot grigio)
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 heaping TBSP Dijon mustard
  • ½ shallot - finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove - finely minced
  • 1 red Thai chili - finely minced (optional)
  • 1 Tsp Herbs de Provence
  • Medium grain salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • Adjust the dressing taste to your liking (+ / - balsamic, oil, mustard)
  • Prager Brothers baguette - heated through and cut
  • Small ramekin with additional dressing to dip the warm bread


  1. Like always, pat seafood dry (in this case, octopus). On cookie sheet or large plate, lightly coat the octopus with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Boil about a dozen small yellow potatoes (i.e., Dutch potatoes), let them cool and cut in half.
  3. Light coals and, once white and spread out, put a grill basket on top and allow a few minutes to get hot. Over direct high heat, add the octopus to the grill basket and spread evenly.
  4. Remember the octopus is already cooked, and we’re just looking for a char to add flavor and texture. Once removed, set it aside to cool.
  5. Cut the fennel into thin quarter-moon slices, mince the shallot, and finely mince the garlic. Put all three ingredients into a sealable jar.
  6. In the same jar, add the oil, vinegar, water, Dijon, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Seal the jar and shake vigorously for 1 minute until it thickens and all comes together (fun job for a kid).
  7. In a large salad bowl, combine all ingredients, including the dressing, and toss until incorporated.
  8. Serve final plates with salad, warm bread, and ramekins of dressing to dip the bread, and pair everything with cold Ziobaffa pinot grigio.

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