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:
OK, I know what you’re thinking… baby octopus salad… gross! NOT GROSS! These little creatures are so delish! This salad is super refreshing and healthy, you’ll wonder why you’ve never nibbled on these babies before. And the grapefruit, mango and lychees are a perfect combination. Baby octopus can be a challenge to find but are in most Asian and Hispanic markets (fresh and frozen). You can always substitute the octopus for squid (calamari) which is more readily available in most grocery stores. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! It’s so YUM!
- 1 pound fresh baby octopus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- ½ lime, juiced
- 4 ounces coconut water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, roasted
- 1 large pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned (pith off)
- 1 mango, cubed
- 8 lychees, flesh only, cubed or sliced
- 2 Thai red chili peppers, seeded and sliced
- ½ red onion, chopped
- Baby arugula for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add baby octopus. Lower to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, covered until octopus are very tender. Remove octopus and shock them in a bowl of ice water until cooled. Pat dry and marinate with olive oil, salt and pepper for 10 minutes. Grill octopus on outdoor or stovetop grill until nicely charred for about 3-5 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, coconut water, fish sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and garlic. Add in the grapefruit, mango, lychees, chili peppers, red onion, and octopus and toss gently until well combined. Top with baby arugula and serve.