Octopus as Food: How to Cook, Grill, and Eat It Safely

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 28, 2022

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An octopus ( or ; plural: octopuses, octopi, or octopodes; see below) is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda. It has two eyes and four pairs of arms and, like other cephalopods, it is bilaterally symmetric. An octopus has a hard beak, with its mouth at the center point of the arms. An octopus has no internal or external skeleton (although some species have a vestigial remnant of a shell inside their mantles), allowing it to squeeze through tight places.

The most popular ways to eat octopus are boiling, grilling, or steaming it. Additionally, it’s often served raw as sushi or sashimi and is considered a delicacy in many countries, especially Japan.

In this guide, I’ll provide you with all the necessary information about eating octopus and how to prepare it safely. Additionally, I’ll share some intriguing facts about this mollusk.

What is octopus

Everything You Need to Know About Octopus as Food

Octopus is a unique and beautiful cephalopod that is often prepared as food. These creatures come in varying sizes, from small to the largest species that can weigh up to 600 pounds. Octopuses have eight arms and sometimes other body parts that are eaten, depending on the local culture and expert preparation. Male and female octopuses appear different, with the male having a double hectocotylus, a specialized arm used for reproduction.

How are Octopuses Raised?

Octopuses are typically raised in captivity, either live or frozen. Baby octopuses are fed plankton and other small organisms until they grow to adult size. Adult octopuses need a varied diet, including shrimp, fish, and other bulk foods. To ensure optimal health, they should be fed every day or every few days, and uneaten food should be replaced regularly.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Octopus?

Octopus is a healthy food that is low in fat and high in protein. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. Octopus is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for optimal health.

How to Store and Thaw Octopus?

Octopus can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. To thaw octopus, it should be placed in the refrigerator for a day or two. It should never be thawed at room temperature or in warm water.

What are Some Interesting Facts About Octopuses?

  • Octopuses are highly intelligent and can solve complex problems.
  • They are also known to be pets and can be trained to do tricks.
  • Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood.
  • They tend to be ravenous eaters and can quickly gain weight as infants.
  • Newly hatched octopus babies are called larvae and are miniature versions of adult octopuses. They drift in the ocean for a few weeks before they begin to fend for themselves.

Controversy Surrounding Octopus as Food

The practice of preparing octopuses alive is controversial due to scientific evidence that octopuses experience pain. Some people also argue that octopuses are intelligent creatures that should not be eaten. However, in many cultures, octopus is a beloved food that has been enjoyed for centuries.

Octopus: A Delightful Seafood Choice

Yes, people eat octopus all over the world. Octopus is a popular seafood item that is prepared in various dishes. It is commonly boiled, grilled, or steamed and served in restaurants. Octopus is a versatile ingredient that can be used in different types of cuisine. It is a traditional food in many cultures, especially in Japanese cuisine.

Is It Safe to Eat Octopus?

Octopus is a safe and healthy food for people of all ages. However, some potential risks are associated with eating octopus, such as mercury contamination. Overall, octopus is a safe and healthy choice for seafood lovers. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing and consuming octopus:

  • Always buy fresh octopus and make sure it is properly cleaned before cooking.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the octopus into pieces. Octopus meat is delicate and can be easily damaged.
  • Boiling or steaming is the most common method of preparing octopus. Grilling is also a popular method that can bring out the sweet and complex flavors of the meat.
  • Octopus is typically low in fat and contains higher amounts of protein. It can be a good substitute for meat in vegan dishes.
  • Smaller octopuses are typically more tender and easier to cook than larger ones.
  • Rolling the octopus in a towel before cooking can help achieve a unique texture.
  • Octopus can be served in various dishes, such as sushi, salad, and pasta. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways.

Mastering the Art of Cooking Octopus: A Guide to Creating a Delicious Seafood Dish

  • Start by cleaning the octopus properly. Remove the head and beak, and cut off the eyes.
  • Rinse the body and tentacles under cold water.
  • If the octopus is fresh, you’ll need to remove the skin. Simply rub the body with a bit of salt and then rinse it off.
  • Cut the octopus into medium-sized pieces.

Tips for Cooking Octopus

  • Always start with fresh octopus for the best quality and taste.
  • Simmering the octopus gently is important to ensure that it becomes tender and consistent in preparation.
  • Adding additional ingredients like bay leaves, lemon, and olive oil can play a big hand in the flavor of the dish.
  • Once cooked, let the octopus cool before cutting it to avoid burning your hands.
  • Black ink sacs can be removed before cooking if you prefer not to have them in your dish.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new dishes and play around with different ingredients to create your own unique octopus dish.

Raw Octopus: To Eat or Not To Eat?

Yes, you can eat octopus raw. In fact, raw octopus is a traditional seafood dish in many cultures, especially in Japan where it is commonly consumed as sushi or sashimi. However, consuming raw octopus can be difficult and requires some preparation to ensure it is safe to eat.

What Are The Risks Of Eating Raw Octopus?

Consuming raw octopus can lead to illness if it is not prepared properly. The main reason for this is that raw octopus contains a lot of natural bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Additionally, octopus meat is tough and contains a lot of protein, which means it lacks the fat content that is associated with more tender types of meat. This makes it more difficult to digest and can lead to discomfort or even illness if consumed in large pieces.

What Does Raw Octopus Taste Like?

Raw octopus has a surprisingly mild taste and is similar in texture to cooked octopus. Some people claim that it has a slightly sweet taste, while others find it to be quite bland. The taste can also vary depending on the type of octopus and how it has been prepared.

Why Octopus is a Nutritional Powerhouse

Octopus is an excellent choice for seafood lovers looking for a high-protein, low-fat dish. A serving of cooked octopus (about 85g) provides a whopping 25.4g of protein, making it an ideal food for muscle development and repair. It’s also rich in essential vitamins, such as vitamin B12, which is crucial for maintaining healthy nerve and blood cells, and selenium, which supports the immune system.

Minerals and Other Nutrients

Octopus is not only high in protein and vitamins, but it’s also a good source of minerals like iron, copper, and magnesium, which are essential for maintaining a healthy body. A serving of octopus also provides plenty of potassium, calcium, and vitamin D, making it a great choice for people looking to add more of these nutrients to their daily diet.

Low in Calories and Saturated Fat

If you’re watching your calorie intake, octopus is a great choice. A serving of cooked octopus contains only 139 calories, and it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy option. It’s also low in carbohydrates, with only 3.7g of carbohydrates and no fiber or sugar per serving.

Scientifically Proven Health Benefits

Studies have shown that the nutrients in octopus can provide a range of health benefits, from reducing inflammation in the body to improving brain function. Octopus is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Controversial but Worth Trying

While some people may be put off by the idea of eating octopus, it’s a popular dish in many cultures and has been enjoyed for centuries. And despite the controversial practice of preparing octopuses alive, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they experience pain in the same way that humans do. So if you’re looking for a nutrient-dense seafood option, octopus is definitely worth giving a try.

How to Incorporate Octopus into Your Diet

If you’re new to cooking octopus, there are plenty of resources available online to guide you through the process. WebMD has a helpful guide to cooking octopus, which includes tips on cleaning and preparing the arms and other body parts. Octopus can be grilled, boiled, or fried, and it pairs well with a variety of ingredients, from garlic and lemon to tomatoes and olives. So why not try adding octopus to your next seafood dish? You might just be surprised at how delicious and nutritious it can be.

Octopus: The Heart-Healthy Seafood Choice

Octopus is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that the body needs but cannot produce on its own. These good fats are linked to a range of heart-healthy benefits, including:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing the buildup of plaque in arteries
  • Reducing stress on the heart

High in Protein and Low in Fat

Octopus is a great choice for people who want to control their fat intake while still getting plenty of protein. In fact, octopus is one of the seafood dishes with the highest protein content. It is also low in fat, making it a balanced and healthy food choice.

Contains Essential Enzymes and Compounds

Octopus is also rich in certain enzymes and compounds that are associated with a number of positive health benefits, including:

  • Improving brain function and learning ability
  • Protecting against damage associated with glucose and sugar
  • Preventing certain types of cancer

Widely Used in Diets Around the World

Octopus is a famous and expensive seafood dish that is prepared in many different ways around the world. It is a tough and standard part of the cuisine in many cultures, including the Mediterranean, Japan, and Korea. Some of the most popular dishes that include octopus are:

  • Grilled octopus
  • Octopus salad
  • Octopus carpaccio
  • Octopus ceviche

Significant Increase in Heart Health Potential

If you are an active male who wants to follow a heart-healthy diet, octopus is an excellent food choice. Its unique combination of high-quality protein, low fat content, and omega-3 fatty acids make it a crucial part of any balanced diet. By incorporating octopus into your meals, you can ultimately increase your heart health potential significantly.


So, that’s how octopus is prepared and eaten around the world. It’s a delicious seafood choice for people of all ages, and a great alternative to meat. Plus, it’s a healthy food with lots of vitamins and minerals. So, go ahead and give it a try!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.