26 May2014


Except in some snazzy restaurants in Manila whose kitchens are run by foreigners or influenced by Filipino chefs who have trained abroad, I don’t think octopus is a common ingredient on local menus at all. But it SHOULD be. It’s an incredibly flavorful creature and it is proving reasonably easy to cook as well (I wouldn’t have said that up until last year, when it always seemed to turn out rubbery and tough when I cooked it). Many folks aren’t familiar with octopus, and when you say you are cooking some up for lunch, the vast majority are skeptical, despite the fact they have never bothered to try eating it before. At least that was the overwhelming reaction I got recently when I ordered several kilos of octopus from our fishmonger in Cebu and served it at the office for lunch.


First, I braised several medium sized octopi in their own juices (along with some bay leaves, whole peppercorns and a touch of red wine vinegar) for roughly 50-60 minutes until tender. Then I seasoned them with sea salt, black pepper and dried red chilies and some olive oil and grilled some of them over an open flame briefly and sliced them and served it with a dipping sauce of soy and vinegar. A few other octopi I seared on a cast iron sizzling plate (photos above) which didn’t quite crisp the tentacles enough but they still tasted pretty darned good. The octopus was tender, flavorful and almost meaty. Something I think most people would really enjoy eating if they just got over the “eew they are tentacles” reaction!



  1. Lydia says:

    Thank you so much for describing how to cook octopus. I have always wanted to buy them but would hesitate for fear of gummy and inedible results. Would the procedure be the same if I want to add them to kinilaw or ceviche? Salamat po.

    May 26, 2014 | 7:03 am


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  3. Betchay says:

    These are the tentacles. What did you do with the heads?
    Saw on TV that Greeks beat their octopus to make it tender, did you do it too?
    Takoyaki has bits of octopus in it right? I guess if you don’t see the whole thing it becomes easier to eat! :)

    May 26, 2014 | 9:52 am

  4. Cris J. says:

    No qualms eating tentacles here.. may tentacles din naman yung malalaking pusit di ba?

    May 26, 2014 | 10:59 am

  5. cthulhu says:

    Hi Marketman!

    Re: braising octopus in its own juices, do you mean to say, braise it with red wine vinegar ONLY until the octopus renders its own liquid?

    Can I buy octopus in any grocery in metro manila? I work 7 days a week and cannot seem to squeeze any time to visit the wet market. :( I have visited several weekend markets, but no vendor seems to sell octopus.


    May 26, 2014 | 12:31 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Yes, just place in a heavy pot with a touch of vinegar and spices and put over medium-low heat covered w no added liquid. Octopus is not so easy to find in groceries but you will have more success at larger seafood markets like Farmers market in Cubao, Seaside in Baclaran or provincial mkts. Bet hay, the cooks cooked the heads as well but I don’t care much for the heads. I have previous octopus posts for more information on how to cook it.

    May 26, 2014 | 12:54 pm

  7. Ron says:

    or use buttermilk as tenderizer instead of vinegar

    May 26, 2014 | 3:09 pm

  8. David B says:

    i’m a fan of both squid and octopus, and i find it strange we don’t eat much of the latter. thanks for the cooking tip

    May 26, 2014 | 5:43 pm

  9. Lou says:

    Greeks (at least here in Chicago) order boxes and boxes of baby octopuses from the Philippines. When I was still working at the Greek School and they had a fair, they served grilled octupos and I saw them delivered in several boxes. I wonder if they are cultured because how can you supply uniform sizes of seafood except by farming. Does someone know?

    May 26, 2014 | 8:39 pm

  10. Kasseopeia says:

    I love the octopus and potato dish from Barcino… that and a bottle of red!

    Sounds easy enough… like cooking those large-as-an-infant squid!

    May 26, 2014 | 9:27 pm

  11. Avid Thinker says:

    Yay, love octopus paired with beer. Thank you for the recipe MM.

    May 27, 2014 | 1:40 am

  12. betty q. says:

    naku, MM…if you have any leftovers….slice thinly, add the ingredients of Mario Batali’s favorite sandwich … slice the boiled eggs, douse with BAGNA CAUDA…serve on toasted baguette slices. I am drooling for it is lunch time over here.

    Make sure though Mrs. MM is out of town when you eat this….GARLIC BREATH!!! Have parsley on hand to chew!

    May 27, 2014 | 3:53 am

  13. Ariel says:

    On the travel channel in Mexico and Portugal
    They beat the meat so it becomes soft. Same
    Principle as a meat tenderizer

    When my parents had beach property
    In Batangas we used to buy octopus
    As a by fisherman by catch and cook it adobo
    Only good with freshly caught ones
    Good combination with piƱangat small fish in a palayok

    May 28, 2014 | 2:03 pm

  14. iCharles says:

    It’s not commonly found on the dinner table because people tend to overcook them. It’s nice to see a proper way to cook octopus.

    Jun 2, 2014 | 10:53 pm

  15. Del says:

    We get fresh from the fishing boat and cook over chaecoal I like it I am Retired US navy

    Jun 12, 2014 | 1:53 pm

  16. Alain says:

    Here in Cebu, or at least here in our place, with my friends, when we go spear fishing at night and catch some octopi, the large ones with head twice the size of a fist, we cook it adobo(Tagalog not Cebuano) style, the small ones we just throw them to the fire and when the tentacles turn opaque white and curl up, we just spear it out from the flame dunk it in venigar with chopped up siling labuyo then eat it with kaning lamig, the rest of our catch like pusit, shrimps, crabs, fishes will go to the pot for tinowa. The eels will be cooked in venigar, ginger, chili, black beans and coco cream

    Jun 24, 2014 | 10:56 am


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