Tender grilled baby octopus combined with a Vietnamese Nuoc Cham dipping sauce make this appetizer dish a winner!
- 2 pounds baby octopus, cleaned and heads discarded
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1/8 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.
You can find baby octopus at your local Asian market, or select grocery stores like Whole Foods. They always have it on hand!
Make sure you buy the octopus already cleaned or, even better, have your fishmonger do the cleaning for you!
Use an outdoor grill or grill pan on high heat, and use a heavy pan or grill press to flatten the octopus while it cooks. These babies cook up quickly, in about 5 minutes, so be sure to watch carefully!
Keywords: baby octopus, octopus, grilled octopus, nuoc cham