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Grilled Octopus Tentacles image

Grilled Octopus Tentacles

Grilled Octopus Tentacles take some getting used to, but once you are hooked, you will want it with every Mediterranean seafood dinner.

The first time I ate perfectly prepared tentacles was in the Algarve. Ever since, I have cooked this side dish at least once every three months.

However, the preparations takes a while.  But if you do it right, you will end up with very tender tentacles.

You can serve tentacles as a side dish or slice them up and add the slices to a seafood salad. They also make a great topping for a Pizza Frutti di Mare.


  • 1 kg of octopus tentacles still joined but the head removed (usually known as "Pulpo"), previously prepared as described below. 
  • 5 l of water.
  • 10 Juniper berries.
  • 10 white pepper corns.
  • 2 tablespoons of salt.
  • 3 bay leaves (more about bay leaves).
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Some lemon juice.
  • Some olive oil.
  • Pepper and salt to add extra flavor.


Pulpo can be very chewy. It is important to prepare the octopus carefully. There are basically two ways to tenderize. The first one is used by fishermen and is illustrated in this clip. 

A variation on this method is to beat the tentacles with a heavy object, such as a rock, a kitchen hammer, or a rolling pin. The rule is that you should hit each part of the pulpo 100 times to get perfectly tenderized meat.

The second method requires less effort but slightly more time or planning. Simply buy the pulpo some days before you plan to serve it and put it in your freezer. Freezing will break up the cell walls and thus causes the meat to become more tender. Make sure the pulpo is fully thawed out when you start cooking if applying this method.

  • In a large (5 liter) pan, bring 5 l of water to a boil.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of salt, the pepper corns, bay leaves, juniper berries and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
  • In some recipes you will read that for the curliest tentacles, you have to dip them into the water and take them out again several times before gently dropping the pulpo into the boiling water. I have never seen great effects of this repeated dipping, but it is a nice ritual. Make sure the pulpo is fully covered by the boiling water.
  • Keep the water at a low boil for an hour. Turn the heat of and let the pulpo cool down in the water.
  • Once cold, take the pulpo out and cut or slice into the pieces suitable for your dish. Generally I slice the thicker bits and keep the ends in one piece.
  • Put the pieces in a bowl, add the lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and salt and stir.