Ceviche de pulpo or octopus ceviche

Octopus ceviche was the first ceviche I really liked, I was very picky about seafood when I was a kid, I could only handle a few bites of shrimp or fish (in ceviches or any other dish) and that was it, I found their taste to be overpowering (not anymore though), except ceviche de pulpo, I loved it. The octopus ceviche I remember was perfect, in particular the octopus was just perfectly tender and it had that perfect balance of seafood taste. I’ve always wanted to make octopus ceviche, but it’s hard to find fresh octopus, Whole Foods can order it for you but it will have been frozen, the guys at Pike Place Market told me the only time you can find it fresh is when it is caught by accident, well it just so happens that I was at the market on a day they some, so I snatched up and was so excited to finally make octopus ceviche. However, I have never cooked octopus before, so I did some Google research and found out that it was quite complicated to cook it just right, first you had to pound it with a heavy object, another person mentioned that the secret was to add a cork to the boiling water, another site said to steam it, another one said to boil it for 3 minutes and then alternate with ice water and boiling, so I tried this last suggestion plus the cork, and it was a disaster, my poor beautiful octopus shrunk into a tiny rubbery disgusting brown looking thing. I was determined to have octopus ceviche (and was having a small lunch for some friends), I remembered seeing cooked octopus at Uwajimaya, a local Asian supermarket, so I used it instead.

The ceviche was pretty good and my food tasters (friends) said they liked it (they ate it), but still not even close to my memory of Ecuadorian octopus ceviche; I have assigned my brother Ramon the super important mission of finding the best octopus ceviche on the coast of Ecuador and obtaining the secret to cooking the octopus, hopefully he will succeed and I will have the perfect octopus ceviche recipe by October. Of course if anyone else has it already please share.

Ingredients:

1 ½ lb cooked octopus meat

1 small red onion, thinly sliced, about 1 ½ cups

Juice of 8 limes + 2 juice of limes to pickle onions

2-3 tbs finely chopped cilantro

2 tbs sunflower oil

Salt to taste

Optional: 2-3 hot peppers, serranos or red chilies, seeded and sliced thinly

Serve with: chifles and hot sauce

Preparation:

  1. Cut the octopus meat into small bit size slices.
  2. Place the sliced onions in a bowl, add some salt and cover with warm water. Let rest for about 10 minutes, drain and rinse well.
  3. Place the octopus in a non-reactive container, add the lime juice, ½ of the onions, hot peppers and salt, let marinate for a couple of hours.
  4. Place the remaining onions in a non-reactive bowl, add the remaining lime juice, some salt and let marinate for a couple of hours.
  5. Combine the marinating octopus with the pickled onions, the sunflower oil, and the cilantro, mix well. Add additional salt if needed.
  6. Serve with chifles, patacones, popcorn, or corn nuts.

Ceviche de pulpo 

Octopus ceviche Octopus ceviche shot

Looking for a different type of ceviche?

Shrimp ceviche

Mango ceviche

Ramon’s fish ceviche

Mafi’s fish ceviche

Comments

  1. Milagros Llauger says:

    I am so lucky to live near Koreatown here in LA. I can always get fresh octopus, just about any size. As a Puerto Rican we also make an octopus salad using champagne as a base.
    P.S. I saw a Korean show from Korea on MBC and folks there massage the octopus for some time to tenderize it. Some people scare the poor things and others massage it. lol
    I love your website….one of the best cooking sites.

  2. As a proffessional chef and a lover of all Ceviches, i can guarantee that you always get perfectly cooked octopus using the following method:

    Add complete, uncut octopus to a pressure cooker with no water.
    Add 1 oniod cut in half
    Add 1 bay leaf.
    Do not add salt…

    Start with the lid on and the heat high, when the pressure cooker starts making the “pressure” noise, from that moment count 8 minutes. As soon as 8 minutes is up, turn off and remove pressure, and remove the octopus. It will be perfect!!

    As for Octopus ceviche, let the cooked octopus cool, then add to a mix of Naranja Agria, or a mix of mostly lime juice with the juice of an orange, cut red onions, salt, chili, cilantro and leave it for an hour or more if you like.

  3. I fell in love with octopus cevice while stationed in Panama. I learned from some “Zonies” how they prepare it, but getting the octopus cooked yet tender was always a challenge. Later, while living in Sicily, octopus was plentiful so I was able to introduce this wonderful cevice to many of my friends, but the cooking process was still hit or miss.

    My mother, who is from Spain, finally told me some of the secrets used there. Some throw the octopus forcefully into a sink several times to tenderize it. Some use the cork trick, but she had never seen it done. Regardless, nearly all will follow the tradition of “asustando” or “scaring” the octopus. Once the water is boiling they add a handful of sea salt, then, grasping the head of the octopus with tongs, they dip it in the water for a few seconds, then remove it. This is done 3-4 times, then the octopus is fully immersed and left to cook. Does it really make a difference? Can’t scientifically validate it but they have been doing it for centuries, so who’s to question.

    The real secret is this; before completing the process of “scaring” the creature, peel a medium size gold or yellow potato. Once the octopus is properly scared and in the water to stay, add the potato. After about 35 minutes, check the potato to see if a skewer or similar object will pass through the center easily. Once the potato is done (35-45 minutes), so is the octopus.

    Remove the octopus, let it cool, then clean it as described on page 4 of the “How to prep octopus”:
    http://fishcooking.about.com/od/squidoctopusrecipes/ss/howto_prep_octo_4.htm

    “Once a large octo is…cooled a bit, you will need to run your fingers along the legs to strip off any gelatinous fat that is on the outside of the legs. Do this under a stream of cold running water into the sink.”

    It works for me, and I’m getting ready to do it today for Christmas eve dinner (always a seafood feast) Hope this helps!

  4. Is there a specific part of the octopus that Ecuadorians use?

    The tentacles and the head (essentially all of it – except for eyes).

  5. Sometimes it is prepared with orange and tomato juice as well as the lime. It’s very good that way but you need the sour/bitter orange or it won’t taste right. Seville oranges will do but Valencias do not (in my opinion) taste good. If you want to try it that way I would cut the lime count in half squeeze in one orange (or two if you really like it) and two medium tomatoes. The tomato juice will need to be strained. Although if you want it to taste good I can’t stress this enough: don’t use sweet oranges!

  6. Diana in NYC says:

    Hi Laylita,
    i am on a food blog binge and came across your awesome blog… My mother is from a province of Loja. She made Octopus ceviche for me all through out my pregnancy cause it’s all i craved. i found out later that octopus is actually really good in aiding the development of the childs bones…who knew? She likes to use the baby octopus or smaller octopus as the big ones get too tough sometimes. I’m looking at your pictures and my mouth is just watering…hay que rico :P I’m off to the fish market…hee hee. Thanks for the wonderful blog. Ciao.

  7. I have always just put things like black beans, rice, carrots, onions, tomato sauce, in a crock pot or a big cast iron stew pot, with a bit of oil and enough water for the rice and beans. I chop up the octopus, as is, from the store. And I let this all simmer from about breakfast time until late supper time (or even overnight). There is no fuss, no fancy timing, to a long slow cooking. The octopus always comes out tender and the sauce delicious. And the kitchen smells wonderful.

    Some people disagree. This seems to be a dish people either love or loathe. But if you love it, nothing could be simpler.

    Now that we are getting huge Humboldt squid further and further north in the Pacific, and tons are being caught by accident, I can’t wait to try some squid in my big black iron pot or crock pot. Even if it’s half as tasty as octopus, it’s got to be a treat.

  8. i live in salvador, bahia, brazil, right on the bahia de todos os santos. fishermen come to my door with octopus so fresh it is still sucking at your fingers.

    the secret to tender octopus: after cutting the octopus into the desired size pieces (keeping in mind that it will shrink), put the pieces in a pressure cooker, with an onion, and NO water. let it cook on a medium/low flame for 15 minutes. it will melt in your mouth.

  9. Kathleen,

    I’ve never used a presure cooker, but I love octopus with oil, tomatoes, and onion. I’ve heard that the octopus meat willbe tender if cooked in a press cooker but haven’t tried it. I have some frozen Philipine octopus and will be buying a press cooker this weekend, what are the steps for cooking in a pressure cooker to arrive at a tender octopus? Please keep in mind that I’m pretty ignorate to the cooking process, unless it’s on an out door grill. If Kathleen is not avaialble, does anyone else know the procedures? Thanks, Ed.

  10. Hello Laylita,

    I’m also Ecuadorian, and ceviche de pulpo is one of my favourites. I tried it for the first time in el mercado de Salinas, all the ceviches there are just amazing, I thought that I was in heaven. They make ceviche de pulpo with naranja agria, and I have tried to replace it using fresh lemon juice mixed with a little bit of fresh orange juice. By the way, I also use olive oil in all my ceviches, and to be quite honest, I love it.

    Cheers.

    Polyana

  11. For people who want very soft octopus, use a pressure cooker. It comes out perfect that way. I used to hate octopus (my mom is Japanese so we ate it a lot) because it was always so tough and chewy. Now I love it after discovering the pressure cooker.

  12. its a case of the 30-30 rule 30 seconds or 30 min anything else and you will have rubber

  13. My grandmother (a Calabrian who was transplanted to Buenos Aires) always made really great pulpo; it was perfectly tender and mild, even to us kids, who would rather have been eating las hamburguesas.

    Your beautiful ceviche looks pretty darn good too! :)

  14. Paulie, thanks for the link, I’ll have to try those instructions next time.

  15. Laylita,
    I love octopus too, and finally have found a recipe that works like a dream. Follow the simple steps and you will be amazed too.

    Here is the link:

    http://fishcooking.about.com/od/squidoctopusrecipes/ss/howto_prep_octo.htm

    Best of luck, and thank you for your recipe!

  16. Hi Ariel, ceviche made with fish should always be “cooked” in the lime juice, though even then sometimes the fish is immersed in boiling water and then finished off in the lime juice, I’ve seen this done both when time is an issue, the fish is very tough (shark ceviche) or when the fish isn’t as fresh as it should be for ceviche (more likely to happen if you are a city or town that is far away from the beach). Other ceviches that are cooked in lime juice or sometimes not even cooked but just marinated are ceviche de concha – made from black clams – and it is typically prepared right in front of you, as well as oyster ceviche. Other seafood is usually cooked or cooked to the point where it’s almost done before making the ceviche, this is the case for shrimp ceviche (which is cooked in either beer or coconut milk), as well as octopus, squid, chicken (yes there is chicken ceviche). This is just based on ceviches in Ecuador, I’m sure that other Latin countries have different types and ways of preparing ceviche.

  17. Dur, never mind! I just actually read the RECIPE rather than just the surrounding post. :) It sure looks beautiful, though!!!

  18. Now, I could be completely, completely wrong on this, but I thought that what was peculiar (and special!) about ceviche, was that is was never cooked with heat, but rather using the acids in the citrus (lime) to “cook” the fish (essentially like pickling it)?

    I’m pretty sure that’s why ceviche’s have such a long marinade time? To allow things to really get “cooked” through? Maybe that will help with the octopus?

  19. Wow, I’ve died and gone to heaven – gorgeous recipe with photos to match. Yum!

  20. Hi Matt, I’ve tried using olive oil in other types of ceviche (fish, shrimp) and it tends to make it bitter, however I think it might work with the octopus. The day I learn to cook octopus properly I want to try making a very delicious Peruvian dish called “pulpo al olivo”, which is octopus in an olive sauce.

  21. This looks awesome – really fresh, bright and tasty. I might swap out the veg oil for a really good olive oil, but that is just me.

Leave a Reply