Octopus Bao

I always love when I can cross something off the list of things I have never cooked before. I am traveling all around California this month, and my current location is in Oakland with my sister. We decided to find and cook an octopus because she was lamenting a recently closed restaurant that served Octopus Bao. I suggested we just make it ourselves, and the hunt was on! We found an octopus at a local Asian fish market and got to work.
Step 1 is to boil the octopus for a few hours to tenderize it. If you look online you will find some weird advice about tenderizing an octopus, like banging it against some rocks or cooking it with a wine cork in the pot. For me, just boiling it until a fork went in easily was enough. Before you grill it though, you will need to not only chop off the legs, but rub the excess skin off. It isn’t really hard to figure out. The skin is slimy and falling apart, while the meat is white, firm, and what you typically expect when you order octopus at a restaurant. Just be careful when taking the skin off cause you don’t want all the suckers to fall off too! Then just grill up the legs. You want a high heat here with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Nice and browned. The sauce for the legs. Just chop up the the octopus and add it to the sauce. Meanwhile, make the bread. I let this rise an hour and a half before rolling it out. Let them rise again for 20 minutes or so before throwing them into the steamer. All the other sandwich toppings ready to go. Bread, octopus with sauce, cucumber, pickled carrot, and cilantro. Yum! These were nice and spicy, and had good texture all throughout. The octopus is tender but just a little chewy, the veggies are crispy, and the bread is super soft. The best thing about them though, is how fresh, bright, and spicy they are. Octopus is intimidating to cook at home, but it’s all the rage at restaurants these days. Think about how impressed people would be if you served this at a party! It wasn’t even that hard in the end, it just needed to cook a bit before it was ready to work with.

Octopus Bao

  • octopus
  • 1 whole octopus 6-7 pounds
  • 1 orange
  • 4 Scallions
  • 3 Thai Chiles
  • 1 tablespoon sambol
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Grated Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Grated Garlic
  • bun
  • 1 packet Yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 2.5 cups Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • toppings
  • pickled carrot
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber

Instructions

    Start the octopus
    1. Put it into a pot with water and simmer for about 2 hours until the fork goes in with minimal pressure.
    Start the bread
    1. Mix the yeast with 1 cup warm water and the honey. Allow to sit 10 minutes until you see it starting to activate.
    2. Stir in the flour and vinegar. Knead until smooth (10 min) adding more flour if needed. Cover and let rise for an hour and a half.
    Clean the octopus
    1. Chop off the legs and discard the head and weird middle part where the legs attach. I think it's called the beak which honestly makes it seem weirder than it is. Rub the skin off the legs being careful to not remove the suckers. Rinse and set aside.
    Finish the bread
    1. Make balls of the dough and roll them out into thin rounds. Allow to rise 20 minutes before steaming.
    2. Steam the bread in a steamer, as many rounds as you can at a time for about 5 minutes each. Place under a clean kitchen towel while you wait for the rest to finish steaming.
    Finish the octopus.
    1. Preheat the grill as hot as you can.
    2. Mix all the sauce ingredients.
    3. Grill the octopus with salt and pepper on very high heat to char.
    4. Chop the octopus and add to the sauce. Toss to coat.
    5. Build the sandwich by first adding the cucumber, then the octopus, then the carrots and cilantro.