Taiwanese Night Market BBQ Octopus

BBQ’ed octopus is a popular street food at Taiwanese night markets. The photo above was taken at a night market in Taipei, but we saw it everywhere. Large octopus legs are put on a skewer and cooked slowly above a charcoal fire, brushed with soy sauce. If they have not been cooked for long enough they can be quite tough. And so when I wanted to recreate another wonderful food memory from Taiwan, I decided to cook the octopus sous-vide first, to make sure that it would be tender. It turned out great. You could also boil the octopus before grilling if you don’t have sous-vide equipment (click here for instructions).


octopus legs

light soy sauce

ground chillies

sesame seed

Thai basil (optional)


Vacuum seal the octopus.

Cook sous-vide for 4 hours at 77C/170F.

The octopus will lose a lot of liquid when cooked. Save this for another use (such as risotto).

Pat the octopus legs dry with paper towels. Insert a skewer into each leg. Brush them with soy sauce and grill them over hot charcoal.

Cut into the octopus meat around the skewer to get some more charring and flavor. (It can’t be clearer that the octopus in the photo was prepared in the Netherlands, not in Taiwan.)

Keep brushing it with soy sauce.

Cook the octopus briefly over high heat. It is already cooked, so you just grill it for the flavor. If you grill it for too long, it will dry out. Remove the skewers.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and ground chillies. In Taiwan it was sometimes also served with Thai basil.



You could think of this pasta with celeriac, walnuts, and chicken as a pasta version of a Waldorf salad.


9 thoughts on “Taiwanese Night Market BBQ Octopus

  1. How can I stay on a blogbreak when you make my mouth water and my hand reach out to have myself . . . you are making Taiwan look very attractive and it is sort’of ‘just up the road’ . . . . 🙂 !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stefan, we’ve been blogging in the same circles for many years, but I think this is the first time I’ve visited your lovely blog. I’m here from Chef Mimi’s blog today because she spoke highly of you and your blog. I adore octopus, sadly I’ve never cooked it at home, because i was worried that I’d ruin it. I’m also apprehensive of the sous-vide, the plastic in particular. I will check out your alternate instructions for boiling them first, in small portions, this would make a wonderful appetizer!
    PS, that photo is definitely unmistakable for Holland.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Eva, nice to ‘meet’ you. I’ll go check out your blog, too.
      If you use the right type of plastic (i.e. suitable for cooking so it doesn’t contain chemicals that will leak into the food) there is really no concern. Octopus is one of those foods where sous vide makes a huge difference because there is so much more flavor left behind (when boiling the traditional way, you are basically making octopus stock, so guess where a lot of the flavor ends up?).
      That photo was taken 3 miles from where I live.

      Liked by 1 person

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