Octopus sous-vide (Insalata di Polpo)

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Octopus is often very tough and bland of taste. However if you cook it sous-vide, it will be extremely tender and flavorful! I made a classic Italian Insalata di Polpo and served it with grilled peppers as an antipasto.

First I sealed the octopus legs into a pouch with some thin lemon slices, salt, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil. Then I cooked it sous-vide for 3 hours at 85C/185F. I have also tried 4 hours at 77C/170F and both work well. I also tried 65C/149F once and that was not high enough as the octopus stayed tough (after 7 hours at least).

After cooking there was a lot of liquid in the bag. This is normal and the octopus was juicy all the same. You could reserve the liquid for some other purpose (sauce, soup, risotto).

At 65C/149F there was as much liquid in the bag and the octopus was tough. So I’ll stick with higher temperatures from now on.

The octopus looked a bit messy, but I knew it would look much better in the salad. I just let it cool to room temperature and sliced it into 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices.

Then I tossed the octopus with chopped flat parsley, good extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice. I tasted and added more parsley, oil, lemon juice, salt and/or freshly ground black pepper to make it taste just the way I like it.

You can serve it right away or keep in the fridge to marinate the octopus a little. Bring back to room temperature (or slightly cooler) before serving.

Octopus (as well as squid) combine well with red peppers. I roasted red peppers in a hot (250C/480F) oven for 25 minutes and then let them cool in a closed plastic bag. The steam in the bag ‘cooked’ the skins, which made it easy to remove them. I removed the stem and seeds and sliced the peppers, then I marinated in good extra virgin olive oil with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some good balsamic.


12 thoughts on “Octopus sous-vide (Insalata di Polpo)

  1. Hi Stefan, thanks for the inspiration! I have combined the octopus preparation method with pressure cooking risotto from ‘Modernist Cuisine at Home’ using the moisture that the octopus releases. The result was just amazing! (unfortunately I can’t post pictures in the comments)
    Here was my take at it:

    4 hours @ 85 C, need ~250 g / portion
    some oil, 2 sjalots, red onion, chorizo -> slice and saute in a base of pressure cooker
    add rice and bake for a minute
    add octopus stock, saffron . Add salt if necessary.
    Pressurize and cook for 9 minutes (start timing when pressure is reached)
    Depressurize, add 2 skinned and chopped tomatoes and parsely.

    grill octopus in a hot pan (just 30 sec per side ), cut in chunks and serve with risotto.
    I’ve tried baking octopus *after* cutting into pieces, which resulted in overcoking and the meat getting tough.


    1. Hi Jev, that is a nice fusion between Spanish (pulpo a la gallega) and Italian (risotto) that you made. It sounds wonderful, so I’ll give it a try for sure. Thanks for sharing. By the way, I think you can post a photo on the Facebook page of the blog.


  2. Beste Stefan,

    thank you for your lovely blog. I’ve made sous-vide octopus many times (85 C/ 3 hours, just like you do) and I agree that sous vide is the perfect technique for octopodes (I had to look up the plural) because they are rubbery when undercooked and rubbery when overcooked and one never knows what went wrong. In the sous-vide they come out perfect every time.
    Two (of the many) other ways of using sous-vided octopus:
    Briefly (!) fry the little pieces in olive oil and mix with fennel, orange supremes, and black olives (add a tiny amount of Pernod or another anise liquor to the orange juice for the dressing). This makes a great starter.
    Cook a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, lots of garlic and herbs, and warm the pieces of octopus in the sauce. Good for croutons or even with pasta.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Stefan,

    Just followed the recipe 3h/85 C, but still rubbery.
    I had them in the fridge over night afterwards and added some extra lemon juice, but still not tender.
    Any suggestions to make them softer?
    Cook again?
    I need to make a rack of lamb today sous vide, so the water is warm…

    Regards and Happy Easter!



    1. Hi Frans, 1 or 2 more hours at 85C should do the trick. In many cases octopus has been frozen, which already tenderizes. Perhaps yours was completely fresh and/or large. We had rack of lamb last night and it was great. Happy Easter!


      1. Thanks, it helped indeed, after 1,5 hour (the rack of lamb was waiting…)
        It was a big one, although frozen, it was 2,2 kg.
        I usually have about 1 kg less.
        By the way; I added some preserved lemon and a little bit of grated kaffir lime peel (which has a great perfume)
        Together with your oven roasted bell peppers it was a great starter!
        Thanks for all your great recipes!

        With very best regards,


        Liked by 1 person

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