Couldn’t get enough of these beautiful sea creatures which were deliciously prepared in Thailand! We just had to put our Asian-inspired spin on this recipe: Grilled Baby Octopus with Nuoc Cham sauce. Don’t be squeamish when it comes to enjoying this unique seafood treat! (Tastes like chicken! Not really, but it tastes a lot like calamari.) These baby O’s cook quickly so we don’t recommend making this after four glasses of wine ’cause you’ll need to pay attention! We pre-cooked them for one minute in boiling water, then marinated them in the fridge for a few hours before grilling. The best part is the to-die-for Vietnamese Nuoc Cham sauce that we drizzled all over the top. Serve this as an appetizer for your dinner guests and don’t tell them how easy it was to make!
Beautiful baby octopus can be found at most Asian markets and select specialty stores.
Grilled to perfection, these little cuties make a great appetizer for your dinner party. They cook so quickly so keep your eye on the ball!
Tender grilled baby octopus combined with a Vietnamese Nuoc Cham sauce make this appetizer dish a winner!
Nuoc Cham dipping sauce is a staple at most Vietnamese tables. This sauce compliments so many Asian dishes and we’ve prepared our own version of this versatile sauce.
- 2 pounds baby octopus, cleaned and heads discarded
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Pinch of Kosher salt & pepper
- For the Nuoc Cham Sauce:
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (red chili paste)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Pinch Kosher salt
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Fill a large pot with 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add in the baby octopus for 1 minute only. Remove and strain the octopus under cold water to stop the cooking.
- Place the baby octopus in a large sealable baggie. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the baby octopus and marinate for at least two hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Let octopus sit to room temperature when ready to grill. Heat a stove-top grill pan or outdoor grill on high heat (spray with cooking spray). Place the baby octopus on the grill and use a heavy pan or grill press to flatten the octopus while it cooks. Grill for 5 minutes on each side until nice grill marks appear. Remove from heat and place on a platter. Pour the Nuoc Cham sauce over the top and garnish with cilantro.
- To make the Nuoc Cham Sauce: In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together and taste for seasoning (more salt). Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or freeze for up to six months. Makes a great dipping sauce for Asian dishes.
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #AsianCaucasianBlog. We’d love to see your pics on Instagram and Facebook!
If you liked this recipe, try our Seared Chili Scallops with Baby Bok Choy.
Shop products featured in this recipe:
I recently dined at a “to-die-for” Greek restaurant in NYC called, Ethos Gallery. One of my favorite seafood dishes was the “Octapodi Sharas” (grilled octopus) on their small plates menu. Wow! My mouth was full of sheer joy! I think our entire dinner party is still dreaming of grilled octopus! It was tender and juicy and incredibly flavorful, which inspired me to make my own version that I could share with you all. Don’t worry, it seems complex but it’s really not! Where the heck do you buy octopus? I buy mine at Whole Foods, but you can often find octopus at your local seafood market or at select Asian markets. This dish makes an awesome appetizer, but is filling enough for a main. Serve it with a side of Roasted Baby Potatoes with Leeks. Kalí óreksi! – which is Greek for “bon appetit!”
Simmer whole octopus in a large pot for one hour until fork tender.
Dunk octopus into an ice bath to cool and maintain its color.
Grill octopus until nicely charred on both sides. I used my stove-top grill pan!
- 25 whole peppercorns (green or black)
- 1 large lemon, cut in half
- 4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 head garlic, cut in half length wise
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
- 2 pounds fresh, cleaned whole octopus (head removed)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 leek, cleaned and chopped (white part only)
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Salt & pepper
- 1 large lemon for squeezing
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
- In a large pot of salted water, add peppercorns, lemon (squeezed), thyme, garlic, white wine, and bay leaves. Bring water to a boil. Slowly drop in whole octopus, tentacles first to avoid too much curling. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour. Poke tentacles with a fork to check tenderness (should be very tender). When done, drain into colander and put octopus only into a large glass bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again when octopus has cooled. On a cutting board, cut tentacles into off of into individual whole pieces starting from middle of octopus (keeping tentacles intact). Place whole tentacles into a plastic baggie and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Set aside to marinate, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic, leeks, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Cook until translucent. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat either an outdoor grill or grill pan on high. Remove tentacles from marinade and grill until octopus has vivid char marks, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle veggie mixture on top of octopus and squeeze with lemon juice. Garnish with chopped parsley. (Can be served warm or at room temperature.) Serve with a side of Roasted Baby Potatoes with Leeks.
Adapted from: NY Times