Baby octopus with lemon and herbs

Whenever visitors to Wellington ask about Te Papa, there’s only ever one thing we tell them to see – the colossal squid. This creature of the deep has become such a feature in our lives that I fear the day that it disintegrates altogether and we are allowed to look at other exhibits. But it has also engendered a great interest in squid of all sizes – including the ones you can eat.
To capitalise on a sudden resurgence in interest (prompted by some recent sea adventures), I came up with this almost-instant tapas-style octopus, which takes five minutes and looks a lot more complicated than it is. It’s certainly a lot less complex than catching a colossal squid – but you’ll have to go to Te Papa to see how they did that.

Baby octopus with lemon and herbs
It might seem a bit of a fiddly task, but I recommend cutting off the hood (which contains what is known in our household as ‘the poo-ey bit’) of the octopus before you start. It’ll only take a minute and makes them much more pleasant to eat.

500g baby octopus, hoods removed and discarded
100ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (about two lemons’ worth)
zest of two lemons
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
a handful of fresh herbs – coriander, dill, parsley, chervil

Fill a small bowl with cold water and ice cubes, and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. When it’s boiling, add a good pinch of salt and the baby octopi. They will curl up and blanch pretty much immediately – as soon as they do, remove them with tongs and drop them into the iced water.
Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl and add the drained octopi. Stir well and season with salt and pepper, then serve. Serves four as a tapas-style appetiser.

Do you have a favourite food-related exhibit at your local museum?



  1. March 24, 2015 / 8:07 pm

    Oh these do remind of walking in Spain. I'm still not sure about eating them though.
    This morning I bought some chicken thighs and did not succumb to Mr Lee Kum Chee's packet of sweet chilli sauce wit two teaspoons of sugar to every 36 grams of deliciousness, and wondering what I'd do with them .. I open Tempo and there's Three ways with chicken thighs by Lucy Corry. Thank you .. Again !

    • March 25, 2015 / 6:35 am

      Hurrah! Thank you so much for that lovely feedback (pun intended). I admit, octopus is not as useful as chicken thighs, but it makes an interesting change! x

  2. March 25, 2015 / 6:40 pm

    I love how beautiful you made the octopus look, such a shame this is not easily accessible where I live x

  3. March 29, 2015 / 5:08 pm

    I absolutely love octopus… this looks like a glorious bowl of Spanish sunshine to me. I've only ever cooked with octopus once and I loved it but this has inspired me to get more creative now we're heading for warmer days. Glorious!

  4. April 23, 2015 / 1:20 am

    I really like seafood, especially the octopus. very enjoyable

  5. April 24, 2015 / 1:15 am

    I've only ever cooked with octopus once and I loved it but this has inspired me to get more creative now we're heading for warmer days.. thaks

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