Tandoori-Style Octopus with Fennel Slaw

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 6

This recipe is the creation of chef Roger Mooking. To defrost octopus, unwrap and place in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Try simmering octopus in liquids other than water, such as wine or olive oil, to impart additional flavors.


For the octopus:

  • 6 headless pieces octopus, each 1 lb., frozen and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, chopped

For the tandoori marinade:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. garlic, pureed
  • 1 Tbs. ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3 whole allspice, seeds ground
  • 3 cardamom pods, seeds ground

For the fennel slaw:  

  • 1/2 cup pear vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. whole fennel seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 celery stalk, finely shaved on a mandoline
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely shaved on a mandoline, plus 1/4 cup loosely packed fennel fronds reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 white onion, finely shaved on a mandoline
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Grapefruit segments for garnish
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Sea salt flakes, such as Maldon, for garnish


To prepare the octopus, place the octopus in a pot large enough to fit comfortably and add the vinegar, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaves and onion. Add enough water to cover, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a slow simmer and skim off any foam from the surface with a ladle. Simmer until the octopus is knife-tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature in the pot with the liquid.

To prepare the tandoori marinade, in a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic and ginger and let stand for 15 minutes to mellow the raw garlic.

Meanwhile, heat a dry fry pan over medium heat and add the paprika, peppercorns, coriander, cumin, turmeric, allspice and cardamom. Toast until the spices are aromatic, shaking the pan frequently to avoid burning.

Stir the toasted spices into the yogurt mixture and let stand so the flavors can come together, about 10 minutes. Separate half of the tandoori marinade and reserve for serving.

Remove the octopus from the cooking liquid and add the octopus to the remaining tandoori marinade. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

Meanwhile, make the fennel slaw: In a saucepan, combine the pear vinegar, red wine vinegar, honey, salt, fennel seeds and water. Bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat and add the celery, shaved fennel bulb and onion. Let steep until the liquid cools to room temperature.

Just before serving, in a bowl, toss the fennel fronds with the olive oil. Drain the cured vegetables and transfer to the bowl. Toss well until combined.

Preheat a Kamado-style grill to 500°F.

Remove the octopus from the marinade (discard the marinade). Sprinkle the octopus with kosher salt and grill on the lowest rack until crispy at the ends and the flesh is heated through. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the large tentacles into individual pieces, and then in half crosswise. The smaller tentacles can be left whole. Scatter the octopus on a plate and top with the fennel slaw in a row down the middle. Garnish with grapefruit segments, lime wedges, sea salt and the remaining tandoori marinade. Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Roger Mooking.

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