Crispy Fried Baby Octopus has a golden-brown crust and tender octopus – a perfect appetizer that’s surprisingly easy to make and sure to impress. The secret is to marinate before you cook, resulting in a succulent texture and unbelievable flavor. Within less than 30 minutes, you’ll be serving up a plate of tender and flavorful baby octopus.
For adventurous seafood lovers, baby octopus is a treasured delicacy. Popular in Asian, Greek, and Italian cuisine, the baby octopus can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways.
This fried baby octopus will soon be your go-to! It pairs well with salads, pasta, or on its own as an appetizer.
The Difference Between Squid And Baby Octopus
Because they are both considered cephalopods, squid and octopus look quite similar to each other. But if you look closely, you will see the major differences between them. Octopuses have eight arms covered in suckers while squids have eight arms and an additional two tentacles that are slightly longer than the other arms and covered in hooks. Squids tend to have a triangular-shaped head, while octopuses have a round head. Another key difference is in the habitat of each animal. Squids are most often found in the open sea, while octopuses tend to stick to the ocean floor.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Of course, you’ll need baby octopus, which can be found fresh at a seafood market or fishmonger. Otherwise, frozen baby octopus is an easy and convenient option that can easily be sourced at the grocery store.
For your marinade, you will need two simple ingredients – milk and salt. For the mixture to coat your octopus, you will need all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and seasonings (oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper). For frying, you will need a neutral oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil.
How To Make The Best Fried Baby Octopus
Step 1: Marinate Baby Octopus
- Clean baby octopus thoroughly.
- Mix salt and milk in a large mixing bowl. Add baby octopus to the mixture and marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Step 2: Coat The Octopus
- Mix together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, dry oregano, ground black pepper, and cayenne in a large bowl.
- Take the octopus and shake off the excess milk. Then toss them in the flour mixture. Coat evenly.
Step 3: Fry The Baby Octopus
- Add oil to a deep-fryer or pot over medium-high heat. Heat the oil to 350°F.
- Gently add a few baby octopus to the oil using a pair of kitchen tongs. Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the octopus from the oil and place them onto the paper towel. Season with salt immediately. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!
Tips And Tricks
- The secret to the very best baby octopus is the marinade, so do not skip this step. Marinating your baby octopus for just 30 minutes results in a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture that you will love.
- For best results, ensure the oil stays at a steady temperature so your octopus can cook evenly.
- Be sure not to overcrowd the pan when frying.
How Do You Tenderize Baby Octopus Before Frying?
It couldn’t be easier to tenderize your baby octopus. All that’s needed is to mix a teaspoon of kosher salt into ½ cup of milk. Milk is an ideal tenderizer because the calcium will react with enzymes in the octopus to soften the protein, resulting in succulent, tenderized meat. Add the baby octopus to your salt and milk mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
How Long To Fry Baby Octopus?
The ideal frying time for baby octopus is around 2 to 3 minutes. Overcooking can make them tough and rubbery, so be sure to watch carefully while frying.
Do I Need To Boil Baby Octopus Before Frying?
You can definitely fry baby octopus without boiling first, but there are some benefits to this extra step. Boiling helps to tenderize the meat while removing any impurities. If you choose to boil them, do so for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse with cold water before frying.
What to Serve With Cooked Octopus?
Your baby octopus can be enjoyed on its own as an appetizer or snack, simply garnished with lemon juice. If you wish, you can incorporate the cooked octopus into pasta dishes and salads. Tasty side dishes for cooked octopus include roasted potatoes, cottage fries or fingerling potatoes.
Is Calamari Octopus?
Calamari comes from the Italian word for “squid.” In the United States, calamari is a popular menu item at restaurants, where pieces of squid are dipped in batter and deep-fried to be served as a crispy appetizer. Calamari is not made using octopus.
Is A Baby Octopus Actually A Baby?
Despite the name and petite size, “baby octopus” is just the name given to a type of octopus that remains small even after reaching adulthood. They’re not actually babies.
Where to Buy Baby Octopus?
You can find baby octopus in most seafood markets or specialty stores that sell fresh seafood. You may also be able to find them online.
Can I Eat the Whole Baby Octopus?
Yes, you can eat the whole baby octopus, including the head and tentacles. However, some people prefer to remove the head before eating.
Do I Need to Remove the Head from The Baby Octopus?
No, you don’t need to remove the head from the baby octopus before cooking or eating. The head is edible and considered a delicacy in some cultures.
Is Baby Octopus Healthy?
Baby octopus is a good source of protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also low in fat and calories, making it a healthy addition to your diet.
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Easy Fried Baby Octopus Recipe
- 1 pound baby octopus fresh or thawed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- vegetable oil as needed
- lemon for garnish cut into wedges
Marinate Baby Octopus
- Clean baby octopus thoroughly.
- Mix 1 teaspoon kosher salt with milk in a large mixing bowl.
- Add baby octopus to the mixture and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Coat the Octopus
- Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, dry oregano, ground black pepper, and cayenne in a large bowl.
- Take a few octopus and shake off the excess milk. Then toss them in the flour mixture. Coat evenly.
- Place the coated octopus in a colander. Repeat with the rest of the baby octopus.
Fry the Baby Octopus
- Add 4-inches of oil to a deep fryer or pot over medium-high heat. Heat the oil to 350°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test your oil by sprinkling some flour. If it starts bubbling and it’s ready.
- One the oil is ready, gently add a few baby octopus to the oil using a pair of kitchen tongs. Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the octopus from the oil and place them onto the paper towel on top of a wire rack. Season with salt immediately. Repeat for the rest of the baby octopus. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!
- Marinating for 30 minutes before frying will produce really tender octopus.
- Make sure the oil temperature stays between 300-350˚F. The temperature may drop slightly after you add the octopus, so adjust the heat accordingly.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan during frying.
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