How to Cook Octopus

Dunking the Octopus
Dunking the Octopus
Octopus Dunking
Octopus - Head Off

There are many ways of cooking octopus and even more old-wives tales about how to ensure your octopus comes out tender – from boiling with a cork to beating with a radish. A more recent discovery is that freezing and defrosting octopus causes the moisture in the muscle to expand and burst the cell walls, which effectively tenderises the meat.

We often find that while people love to eat octopus, they are hesitant to cook it themselves. Poorly cooking octopus can result in tough, inedible muscle, but by following the technique below you can ensure tender, moist octopus every time. Here at GFBF we use this technique as a preliminary step in nearly all our octopus cooking.  Once you’ve ensured your octopus is tender you can then use it any way you wish – BBQ’d, smoked, pickled, braised or tossed through a salad. Or, simply cut your octopus up while it’s still warm, sprinkled with good olive oil, paprika and lemon and enjoy as is!

Preparation time: 90 minutes


1 Octopus, head and beak removed.
Salt - enough to make your cooking water taste like the sea!


  1. If the beak has not been removed from your octopus, you can do this by turning the octopus upside down and pressing firmly on the “mouth” (in the white circular centre between the legs) until the hard beak ‘pops’ out.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a simmer.
  3. Tenderise the octopus. Wrap a rolling pin in a clean plastic bag and bash the legs. You don’t have to use excessive force and the aim is not to pulverise the octopus – working up and down each leg once or twice should result in tender but intact octopus.
  4. Using a hook or tongs, lower the octopus very, very slowly into the simmering water. The legs should be curling up at the same rate as you lower. This works much like the Spanish “three-dunk” method to ensure that the octopus doesn’t “seize up” and the water doesn’t lose its heat.
  5. Once the octopus is fully submerged adjust the heat to poach the octopus. The water should be steaming vigorously, but not bubbling.
  6. Cook the octopus until tender, approximately 45 minutes, then remove from the water carefully.
  7. Remove the skin by rubbing it from the legs, preferably while still warm. It should fall off easily.
  8. At this point you can use the octopus as you wish - BBQ it, pickle it, or put it through a salad. You can store the cooked octopus in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or longer if under oil. This makes it an ideal step to get out of the way the day before your next barbecue, dinner party or long lunch. Look out for more tips and recipes utilising octopus, coming soon on GFBF!

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