You’re probably familiar with the octopus as a squiggly, eight-armed sea creature, but in many countries, it is much more than that. Octopuses are used in cuisine all over the world, and if you’ve never tasted octopus, you may have some questions before you try to include this healthy seafood in our diet. If you’re curious, read on to learn what you need to know about octopus as a healthy food, and enjoy some of our favorite easy recipes to try out this tasty treat.
Octopuses, also known as squid, have a very mild, meaty flavor that most people would say is more similar to chicken than it is most other seafood. The usual fishy flavor associated with seafood is not very abundant in octopus. Instead, the octopod has a very bland flavor that is often seasoned when prepared.
Octopus is notoriously chewy and tough in texture, especially when eaten raw. However, the meat can be cooked (often boiled) to tenderize it. When octopus is prepared properly, it can be as tender and juicy as lobster. Despite what you may think, octopus is not really slimy at all.
Absolutely! Octopus is often eaten both raw and cooked, though both options provide different flavors and textures. In some parts of the world (mostly Asia), some species of octopus is actually consumed while still alive! However, if that’s not your cup of tea, octopus can be sliced thin and served up raw as sashimi, a style of sushi.
Octopus is certainly a nutritious dietary option. It is both a low calorie and high-protein food, with plenty of other vitamins and minerals to consider as well. A 3-ounce portion of octopus only has around 150 calories and has well over 20 grams of protein. This amount of octopus has less than 2 grams of fat, with only about a half gram of that being saturated fat. One small serving of octopus may also provide your daily value of iron (for men, women need a bit more), vitamin B12, and selenium.
As we said earlier, octopus is eaten raw, cooked, and alive. However, the way it is consumed varies greatly all over the world. In Japan, octopus is often consumed as sushi, called Tako. It can also be eaten as a snack, called Takoyaki, which is a small bread ball filled with octopus, green onion, and pickled ginger.
In Korea, raw octopus is a novelty food, but it is often used to make nakji bokkeum, or an octopus stir-fry. In Portugal, it may be cooked into a stew with rice or breaded and fried. In the Mediterranean, it may be served grilled, and hot or cold in a salad-type dish. In the United States, octopus is eaten less frequently (except in Hawaii) and is usually consumed in foreign cuisine, meaning it is not a popular ingredient in “American” food.
Like other types of seafood, there is always a chance of raw octopus being riddled with parasites and, with most meats, octopus can spoil over time. Cooked octopus poses less of a health risk but, in most cases, if prepared properly, octopus is totally safe to consume.
It doesn’t take a professional chef to cook up this unordinary meat. These recipes are simple, tasty ways to try out octopus:
This spin on a South American classic will have your mouth watering the entire time. It’s super simple to make and full of great flavor, protein, and healthy fats and spices.