How to Make the Ultimate Octopus Tacos?
n this post I will teach you how to make delicious octopus tacos with mushrooms and I will let you know all of the little tricks that you need to know to cook a soft octopus.
Tacos are one of the most traditional and versatile dishes in Mexico. A taco consists of a tortilla, generally a corn tortilla, with a delicious filling: the protagonist of this taco is the octopus.
Octopus is rich in minerals and vitamins and it is low in fat which makes it a great complete protein. You can keep it that way if you don’t add butter or too much oil. It is also a good source of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Furthermore, octopus is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids which helps lower blood pressure.
Prepare the octopus
The hidden secret behind a soft octopus is to freeze it before you cook it. Although most of the time you will find frozen octopus in the store which saves you time. If you got a fresh octopus put it on the freezer for one or two days. Freezing the octopus helps to break the fibers of the tentacles which makes it soft.
When you have a frozen octopus slowly thaw the octopus by putting it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before cooking it.
Clean the octopus
They normally sell the octopus with an empty head (without the organs that the head have) so you don’t have to worry about that. But if it is not the case you will have to do it yourself.
Next step is to remove the octopus eyes and the octopus beak which is located between the tentacles in a strong muscle tissue known as buccal mass.
To remove the eyes make a cut between both eyes and then cut a piece that will have the eye. Do the same to the other eye. In order to remove the beak you do not even need to use a knife. Place your fingers inside the head and push the beak out.
When you buy octopus it will be sticky and slippery most of the times. You must clean it to avoid that. Use a big bowl with water and put it inside.
Carefully clean each tentacle and each part of the octopus with your hands to remove sand or stones that might be there.
Cook the octopus
Boil water in a pot with a piece of onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 6 cloves and some bay leaves. The boil should be low.
Grab the octopus from the head and dip its tentacles for a few seconds, two to three seconds, repeat this three times. This makes the tentacles curl up and prevents the skin from falling off during cooking. The water is boiling again each time you dip the tentacles.
Finally, put the octopus inside the pot and make sure the water covers the octopus completely. Let it cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat. The boil should not be very strong because it would damage the tentacles.
To make sure the octopus is ready use a knife or toothpick to pierce the thickest part of the tentacle, if the knife goes though easily it means it is cooked.
Once the octopus is cooked remove it from the pot and let it cool down. This step is important to avoid peeling the tentacles. Find out more about how to cook octopus properly to make it tender.
If you would like to grill the octopus and add extra flavor you can. Even if you grill the octopus it is recommended to boil it first as explained before.
Then let the octopus cool down to room temperature and grill it as soon as you can. If you do so it will get a nice char.
Season it with salt, pepper, dried oregano, fresh parsley, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. This is optional.
Why don’t we add salt to the water?
Please, do not add salt to the boiling water to cook the octopus because it will make it be hard. It is better to add flavor when the octopus is already cooked.
Ingredients for the ultimate octopus tacos with mushrooms
- One pound of diced cooked octopus
- ½ chopped purple or white onion
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped green olives
- 225 gr mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon chipotle adobo
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Corn tortillas
- Lime juice to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the octopus and the rest of the ingredients in small cubes.
Heat oil to a frying pan and add diced onion, diced garlic and diced mushrooms.
Cook over medium high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to cook evenly.
When the onion is soft, add the tomato puree, chipotle chili and mix well.
Finally, add the cooked and chopped octopus, cilantro and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Cook only until the octopus is hot, no more because we do not want it to be chewy or hard.
Serve immediately in warm corn tortillas. Add more cilantro, lime juice and your favorite hot sauce.
Some extra advice
If you are cooking for many people I recommend you to cook one pound per person.
You can safe grilled octopus in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To avoid having a mushy octopus make sure you don’t undercook it or overcook it. Cook it about 30 minutes over medium heat.
If you liked our octopus tacos recipe, you may also like this article about most popular Mexican restaurant appetizers.