Balsamic Grilled Octopus With Polenta

Grilled Octopus with polenta and a side of tomatoes and chickpeas on avocado cream
Balsamic Grilled Octopus With Polenta

I first fell in love with octopus on my second trip to Greece. We decided to go to a little town called Agios Nikolaos on the eastern edge of Crete. There was a restaurant high on the rocks overlooking the lake and ocean which did a fantastic octopus with a chickpea and aqua faba puree. In the 10 days we were there we ate at that restaurant 3 times. That was my inspiration for this balsamic grilled octopus with polenta.

I have already shown how to make a perfect polenta on this site, and the recipe is the same. I have just reduced the serving by 2/3 since we don’t need so much for this recipe.

I think a lot of people are afraid of cooking octopus because they are not used to it. Growing up in America I can only remember getting it one time where it wasn’t a piece of rubber, and that isn’t even saying it was good. But those Greeks sure changed my mind on this creature.

There are two main ways to cook an octopus that I am a fan of; fried octopus and grilled octopus. Both of these methods begin by boiling the octopus to soften it up. For my balsamic grilled octopus I boiled the tentacles for 30 minutes in a saucepan of simmering salted water, before plunging them into ice water. Then I dried them completely with a towel and rubbed them down with balsamic glassa. You might remember balsamic glassa from my roasted eggplant recipe, or as my only added ingredient for Caprese Salad.

How To Get Octopus?

If you don’t like by a fishmonger who specializes in octopus, your best bet is probably buying frozen tentacles at the grocery store. Don’t worry, they will still be delicious. In fact, the act of freezing the tentacles can help break down the proteins in them and make it quicker to tenderize.

If you have the option though, try to look for vacuum sealed packs. They will go bad faster, but they have a little sweeter flavor in my opinion, and it isn’t a big deal to boil them for 10 extra minutes.

Do I Have To Boil The Octopus?

Boiling Octopus
Boiling the Octopus

Well, technically you don’t have to do anything at all. You can do like the Japanese and Koreans do and eat them alive with a bit of ponzu. But if you have a proper tentacle instead of little baby octopodes, you will definitely want to boil them before to soften them up.

As we are grilling the octopus after boiling, it won’t taste like a bland tasteless piece of boiled meat. But it will not be rubbery which is what we want. Octopus has a similar texture to squid or cuttlefish as they are all the same family, but I find octopus to have more bite to it, and the denseness is great for making grilled octopus.

Balsamic Grilled Octopus With Polenta Ingredients

Grilled Octopus

200 grams Octopus Tentacle. You can buy fresh, frozen, or vacuum sealed. Try to go for fresh, but if you can’t, anything else is fine.

2 tbsp Balsamic Glassa. You can buy it straight in the bottle, or make it yourself by reducing Balsamic Vinegar 75% in a saucepan.

1 Shallot; chopped

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Polenta

75 grams Ground Cornmeal. For the polenta, just a standard fine cornmeal is good.

50 grams Parmigiano Reggiano; grated. You can also use Gran Padano or Pecorino Romano if you want. Any hard salty cheese goes well in polenta.

300 ml Water

2 tbsp Butter; non salted.

Salad

1 Tomato.

10 Chickpeas

1 Avocado

2 tbsp Heavy Cream

The Rest

Salt

Radish Sprouts

Grilled Octopus Instructions

1. As the Polenta and the Octopus take a similar amount of time we can start with the boiling of the octopus, then set it for a half hour while making the polenta. In a large saucepan, fill about 3/4 the way with water and add a few tbsp of salt. Bring up to a boil. When boiling, reduce to a simmer and drop in the octopus tentacles. Set on a back burner for at least a half hour.

2. In a pot begin boiling the 300 ml of water with a pinch of salt. When you reach a rolling boil, slowly pour in the cornmeal while whisking rapidly to prevent any clumps. Lower the heat to medium and continue whisking for 5 minutes straight. By now the there should be about an equal amount of cornmeal to water so it’s like a thick slurry. Put the heat on very low and lid the pot. You will stir it up every 5 minutes for the next 25 minutes.

3. As you have a bit of free time since all you need to do is stir the polenta every 5 minutes, let’s make the avocado cream for the salad. Using a stick blender (or just a regular blender), mix together one whole avocado with the heavy cream and a pinch of salt until you’re left with a light green cream. Chop up 1 tomato as well, and peel the skin off 10 or so chickpeas.

4. When the polenta is done and thick, drop in the butter and mix once more. When the butter is fully incorporated, add the grated parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and set aside for 10-15 minutes off the flame with the lid on.

5. Take the octopus tentacles and drop them in a bowl of ice water. Empty the saucepan. Dry the tentacles with a towel and rub down with the balsamic glassa.

6. In a very hot grill pan or skillet add the olive oil and the chopped shallot, then drop the balsamic octopus tentacles down and cook for just a minute or so per side. As we are using a high flame with low smoke point oils, the balsamic may flame up so best to be careful when doing this step. This is okay however and will make a nice glaze/crust caramelize along the edge of the octopus’ tentacles.

balsamic grilled octopus
Grilled Octopus

7. Plate the dish. Smear the avocado cream down and top with the chopped tomatoes and some chickpeas. Add a dollop of polenta and form into an oval or circle, then top with the balsamic grilled octopus. Salt the salad to taste and serve.

plating
Plating
Grilled Octopus on Polenta
Balsamic Grilled Octopus

What Do You Think Of This Grilled Octopus Recipe?

Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!

Recipe

Grilled Octopus

Balsamic Grilled Octopus With Polenta

A wonderfully mediterannean dish that really showcases the grilled octopus. Cooked in a thick balsamic glassa and sitting atop a bed of polenta, this recipe is sure to delight.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: European
Keyword: Grilled Octopus
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

Grilled Octopus

  • 200 grams Octopus
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Glaze
  • 1 Shallot chopped
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

Polenta

  • 75 grams Ground Cornmeal fine
  • 300 ml Water
  • 50 grams Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tbsp Butter unsalted

Salad

  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 tbsp Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tomato
  • 10 Chickpeas

The Rest

  • Salt to taste
  • Radish Sprouts for garnish

Instructions

  • As the Polenta and the Octopus take a similar amount of time we can start with the boiling of the octopus, then set it for a half hour while making the polenta. In a large saucepan, fill about 3/4 the way with water and add a few tbsp of salt. Bring up to a boil. When boiling, reduce to a simmer and drop in the octopus tentacles. Set on a back burner for at least a half hour.
  • In a pot begin boiling the 300 ml of water with a pinch of salt. When you reach a rolling boil, slowly pour in the cornmeal while whisking rapidly to prevent any clumps. Lower the heat to medium and continue whisking for 5 minutes straight. By now the there should be about an equal amount of cornmeal to water so it's like a thick slurry. Put the heat on very low and lid the pot. You will stir it up every 5 minutes for the next 25 minutes.
  • As you have a bit of free time since all you need to do is stir the polenta every 5 minutes, let's make the avocado cream for the salad. Using a stick blender (or just a regular blender), mix together one whole avocado with the heavy cream and a pinch of salt until you're left with a light green cream. Chop up 1 tomato as well, and peel the skin off 10 or so chickpeas.
  • When the polenta is done and thick, drop in the butter and mix once more. When the butter is fully incorporated, add the grated parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and set aside for 10-15 minutes off the flame with the lid on.
  • Take the octopus tentacles and drop them in a bowl of ice water. Empty the saucepan. Dry the tentacles with a towel and rub down with the balsamic glassa.
  • In a very hot grill pan or skillet add the olive oil and the chopped shallot, then drop the balsamic octopus tentacles down and cook for just a minute or so per side. As we are using a high flame with low smoke point oils, the balsamic may flame up so best to be careful when doing this step. This is okay however and will make a nice glaze/crust caramelize along the edge of the octopus' tentacles.
  • Plate the dish. Smear the avocado cream down and top with the chopped tomatoes and some chickpeas. Add a dollop of polenta and form into an oval or circle, then top with the balsamic grilled octopus. Salt the salad to taste and serve.
Did you make this?Mention @CookingToEntertain or tag #cookingtoentertain and let me know how it was!


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