How to Cook Octopus in Japanese style?

How to Cook Octopus in Japanese style?

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Octopus (tako) is a regular dish in Japan. Many Japanese restaurants serve octopus, and anyone who has tried it can attest to how delicious it is. The Japanese have been eating octopus for millennia and they have perfected the art of cooking it. You, however, may feel intimated by the weird look of the octopus and not even know where to start.

Unlike what you may think, an octopus is easy to cook in the Japanese style. It takes some work to cook it right, but the results are finger-licking.

Octopus Cooking Japanese Recipe

There is a slight difference in the recipe depending on whether the octopus is fresh or frozen. Chances are that you will get a frozen octopus like this, and this is a good thing – freezing the octopus tenderizes the meat and makes it easy to get rid of the slimy substance that covers its body and tentacles. However, we will assume that you are working with a fresh octopus, in which case you will need to follow this recipe:

Cleaning and Tenderizing

Octopus is covered by slimy substance all over its body. You will need to get rid of this substance before cooking. This is done by massaging the octopus with salt for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure that you apply and rub the salt all over the octopus’ body. Rub the salt hard at first and gently as you go on. Rinse off all the salt when you are done and run your finger through the octopus to ensure that it is not slimy.

The salt also helps tenderize the octopus, but it is not enough. As such, you will need to beat the octopus with a wooden plank to soften the meat. Hit it moderately hard all over the body for about five minutes until it is limp and soft to the touch.

Bring Water to Boil

Add water to a large pot and heat to boiling point. Add some salt and a dash of vinegar for flavoring – you can also add sake if you like the flavor. Ensure that the water boils before putting the octopus.

Cook the Octopus

Cooking octopus is quite easy, but there is a method to it. You should begin with the tentacles. As such, hold the octopus by its body – with the tentacles dangling – and dip the tentacles into the boiling water. Move the tentacles up and down in the boiling water until they curl. Ensure that each tentacle is curled to avoid getting the whole thing tangled up.

Once the tentacles are curled you can then proceed to immerse the entire octopus in the boiling water. Ensure that the whole octopus is under the water and cover the pot with a lid. Watch over the pot to clear the froth that may brim to the top as the octopus boils.

Let the octopus boil for about five minutes and then turn off the heat. Leave the octopus in the boiling water for about five more minutes time it precisely as boiling the octopus for too long will harden it and not only ruin its tender texture but also delicious flavor.

Let it Cool

Once the timer is done remove the boiled octopus from the water and place it in a separate, empty pot. Leave it for about five minutes to cool off.

Slice it Up

Slicing the cooked octopus up may prove more tricky than cooking it. It takes precision to get the perfect slices.

Start by detaching the tentacles from the body by cutting them off where they are connected. You will also notice that the parts around the mouth are black and crusted – push these crusted bits off from the inside and scrape them off.

You should begin slicing the tentacles at the tick side. As such, place the tentacles on a plant with the thicker ends on the left. Cut thin strips measuring about ¼-inches each – the thickness may vary depending on your preferences, but ¼ inches is recommended as it is easy to eat. You can also cut the tentacles in chunks if you plan to mix them with vegetables.

Cooking octopus in Japanese style is that simple and easy. There are many ways of serving octopus and it all depends on your preference.

Takoyaki Recipe (Japanese Octopus Ball)

As mentioned, there are many dishes that you can prepare using octopus. One of the most popular octopus dishes in Japan is Takoyaki. Takoyaki is widely enjoyed both as a snack as well as a whole meal dish depending on which part of Japan you are in. It is easy and enjoyable to cook, and it is finger-licking delicious.


Takoyaki ingredients are easy to come by. However, it is virtually impossible to cook without a Takoyaki pan like this on Amazon, but this should be easy to find online. Ingredients include:


  1. Mix the flour, dashi, salt, eggs, and soy sauce well in a large bowl.
  2. Pour oil into the Takoyaki pan and heat under high temperature – it may take longer if you are using an electric stove. Ensure that you use just enough oil to coat the whole pan and use a paper towel to ensure that the butter doesn’t stick. Wait until the oil starts smoking and pour in the butter to fill all the holes in the pan.
  3. Take the chopped octopus pieces, sweet corn or cheese and drop them in the holes containing butter. Let the octopus settle for a minute and then sprinkle the chopped green onions and ginger all over it.
  4. Let the octopus cook for about 2 minutes in medium heat. Use the Takoyaki turner or a chopstick to flip the octopus pieces and leave them to cook for about 4 more minutes in medium heat. Ensure that you flip the pieces constantly to avoid burning and ensure that each part is well cooked.
  5. Switch off the heat and transfer the cooked Takoyaki to a plate. Pour out the mayo and Takoyaki sauce on it and finish off by sprinkling the Aonori and dried bonito flakes evenly across the dish.

It should take about 10 minutes to prepare the ingredients and 10 more minutes to cook. The dish should yield about 30 pieces and serve a wholesome meal for the whole family.  

Related Questions

Q: What are the health benefits of eating octopus?

A: Octopus meat has a wide range of health benefits. It is rich in a variety of nutrients including protein, iron, selenium, and vitamin B-12, among others. It helps in the formation of hemoglobin and supports overall growth. It is also said to reduce stress and treat some types of cancer. There are also unsubstantiated claims that octopus cures impotence and boosts sex drive in men.

Q: Which species of octopus are recommended for human consumption?

A: The blue-ringed octopus is the only species of octopus dangerous for human consumption as it is highly venomous. The giant pacific octopus is the most popular species of octopus with humans. One should be cautious when cooking and preparing octopus to ensure that it is not venomous.

Q: Is it safe to eat raw octopus?

A: Octopus is often served raw and it is a delicacy in Japan and across Asia. However, it is risky as one can choke to death. To this end, experts advise against eating raw octopus unless it is prepared by professionals and guidelines for serving and eating are given.

Related Article: Can You Eat Raw Shrimp In Sushi?

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