Octopus as food

Humans of many cultures eat octopus. The arms and sometimes other body parts are prepared in various ways, often varying by species and/or geography

Octopuses are sometimes eaten live, a practice that is controversial due to scientific evidence that octopuses experience pain.

Dishes by geography


Octopus is a typical dish in Galicia, Spain, they prepare it in a variety of ways, however, one of the most common ways to prepare it is what they call "á feira", in this case, they cook the octopus, cut it and add salt, olive oil and some spicy paprika, in some cases, octopus may be accompanied with some cooked potatoes.



Octopus is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine, including sushi, takoyaki and akashiyaki.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion.[1][2] Takoyaki are brushed with takoyaki sauce, similar to Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise. The takoyaki is then sprinkled with small strips of laver and shavings of dried bonito.


In Korea, some small species are sometimes eaten alive as a novelty food. A live octopus is usually sliced up and it is eaten while still squirming.

Nakji bokkeum is another popular dish in Korea. It's a type of stir-fried food made with chopped octopus.


Miruhulee boava is a Maldivian delicacy made of octopus tentacles braised in curry leaves, chili, garlic, cloves, onion, pepper, and coconut oil.[3]


In Portugal octopus is eaten Lagareiro style, i.e. roasted with potatoes, herbs, onion, garlic, and olive oil.[4]


Hongzhang is a famous Singapore delicacy. The ingredients include steamed octopus limbs, and a sauce of pork skin, pepper and flour. This chewy dish is common in Singapore and most traditional Chinese restaurants would serve it.

The Mediterranean

Raw octopus arms
Lightly boiled octopus arm that turned a bright purple

Octopus is a common food in Mediterranean cuisine such as Portuguese cuisine or Tunisian cuisine. In the Spanish region of Galicia, polbo á feira (market fair-style octopus) is a local delicacy. Restaurants which specialize or serve this dish are known as pulperías.

On the Tunisian island of Djerba, local people catch octopuses by taking advantage of the animals' habit of hiding in safe places during the night. In the evening, they put grey ceramic pots on the sea bed. The morning of the following day they check them for octopuses sheltered there. Also unlike its other Maghreb neighbor, seafood, including octopus is used extensively in Tunisia, grilled, roasted, in couscous, pastas or chorbas.

A common scene in the Greek islands is octopuses hanging in the sunlight from a rope, just like laundry from a clothesline. They are often caught by spear fishing close to the shore. The fisherman brings his prey to land and tenderizes the flesh by pounding the carcass against a stone surface. Thus treated, they are hung out to dry, and later will be served grilled, either hot or chilled in a salad. They are considered a superb meze, especially alongside ouzo.

United States

Octopus is eaten regularly in Hawaii, since many popular dishes are Asian in origin. Locally known by their Hawaiian or Japanese names (he'e and tako, respectively), octopus is also a popular fish bait.


Sannakji is live octopus that has been cut into small pieces and served with its arms still squirming.

Live octopuses are eaten in several countries around the world, including the US.[5][6] Animal welfare groups have objected to this practice on the basis that octopuses can experience pain.[7] In support of this, since September 2010, octopuses being used for scientific purposes in the EU are protected by EU Directive 2010/63/EU "as there is scientific evidence of their ability to experience pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm.[8] In the UK, this means that octopuses used for scientific purposes must be killed humanely, according to prescribed methods (known as "Schedule 1 methods of euthanasia").[9]

Nutritional value

According to the USDA Nutrient Database (2007), cooked octopus contains about 56 kilocalories (Calories) per 100 grams, and is a source of vitamin B3, B12, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.[10]

Octopus heads are high in selenium and are a risk for cadmium poisoning, even in small amounts.[11] In 2010, over 29 mg of cadmium—14 times higher than the permitted level—was found in the heads of octopus imported to South Korea from China.[12]

See also

Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on


  1. "蛸焼" [Takoyaki]. Dijitaru daijisen (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  2. "Takoyaki". Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  3. Masters, T. (2006). Maldives. Lonely Planet. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-74059-977-1.
  4. "Lagareiro Style Octopus". Cooking Lisbon. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  5. Eriksen, L. (November 10, 2010). "Live and let dine". The Guardian. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  6. Killingsworth, S. (October 3, 2014). "Why not eat octopus?". The New Yorker.
  7. Ferrier, M. (May 30, 2010). "Macho foodies in New York develop a taste for notoriety". Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  8. "Animals used for scientific purposes". European Commission. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  9. "The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012". Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  10. "Basic Report: 35054, Octopus (Alaska Native)". USDA. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  11. "Seoul squirms over octopus head war". Reuters. October 21, 2010.
  12. "Poisonous Cadmium Found in Octopus Heads". Arirang News. September 13, 2010.
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