This grilled octopus on a bed of pearled couscous recipe is just divine. Tenderized octopus, char-grilled and served on top of a Spanish inspired bed of pearled couscous with chorizo and nice aioli on the side. Simply delicious!
The art of cooking octopus dates back to the ancient times where Greeks ate it from psarotavernes, or fish taverns. It all starts with tenderizing the beast! If you don’t fancy knocking it rocks until it tenderizes, buy it frozen which will tenderize the meat without having a big mess in the kitchen.
Although it is a relatively long process to cook as you need to first braise it, marinate it and then grill it, the tender result of your grilled octopus is well worth the effort.
How to make grilled octopus?
Although you could make a shortcut and buy the octopus already cooked, you never know if it will have the perfect tenderness you strive for with octopus. I have tried different approaches and the following is by far the one that gets the best results. If you want to get easier results, buy the octopus frozen already as the freezing process will tenderize the meat.
There are three key steps to getting flavor packed and tender octopus: braising, marinating and grilling.
The braising step actually cooks the octopus slowly and makes it tender. Have a pot that is big enough to comfortably get your octopus in there. According to legend, you have to dip the octopus 3 times for a couple of seconds until the tentacles curl up before immersing it completely! Let it cook for about 2 hours or until tender.
This step imbues the flavor profile you want to give to your octopus. In this case, we are imbuing a Mediterranean flavor profile based on herbs, olive oil and garlic. This marinade goes so well with octopus!
Although the octopus is already cooked, grilling and char marks will give it an extra layer of flavor and texture. It’s a quick grill just to mark it and heat it up.
The pearled couscous is cooked similarly to how you would cook rice. You have enough liquid so the couscous cooks and absorbs the liquid. The Spanish flavors of paprika and chorizo combine really well with the marinated octopus.
An aioli is a sauce made of garlic, salt, and olive oil. It is creamy and rich and provides a nice complement to the octopus. You can make it easily with a mixer. You essentially start by pulsing the egg yolk followed by the lemon juice and mustard a few times. Then you gently pour your olive oil while the mixer is running until the sauce has emulsified. Add the garlic at the end, taste and adjust seasoning accordingly!
- 1 octopus of about 6 lbs (3 kg)
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 head of garlic
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- Water in sufficient quantity to cover the octopus
Marinade for octopus
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 250 gr - uncooked Pearl Couscous
- 600 ml of fresh chicken stock
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 100 gr Chorizo sausage, sliced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Make the aioli by adding the egg yolk to the bowl of a food processor.
- Add the lemon juice and mustard and pulse a few times to mix.
- Pour the olive oil in a thin stream as the motor is running. Process until the mixture has emulsified.
- Add the garlic and mix further.
- If the aïoli is too thick, you can add a bit of water.
- Add chives ar the end and mix in with a fork.
- Reserve in the fridge for later use.
- In a large pot, put all of the braising liquid ingredients. Bring to a boil.
- Dip the octopus for 3 times for a couple of seconds until the tentacles curl up and cook until the octopus is tender, around 2 hours. Let cool down and peel.
- Pour the marinade in a ziplock bag along with the cooked octopus tentacles. Marinate the cooked octopus for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight in the fridge. Once ready, take it out to have it at room temperature before grilling.
- Preheat an outdoor grill or griddle pan for medium-high heat.
- For the pearled couscous, heat the olive oil in a deep non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.
- Add the chorizo and cook until golden for 3-4 minutes, reserve on a plate
- Add the onion and pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and spices. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the pearled couscous and the chicken stock to the pan, stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid or foil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the couscous is cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Meanwhile, lightly oil the grate of the preheated grill.
- Grill marinated octopus until charred on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Remove from heat, and set aside.
- To serve, plate a bed of pearled couscous on a plate and place on top one or two of the octopus tentacles.
- Smear the aïoli on the side of the plate
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, squeeze lemon over top and sprinkle with parsley.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.