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Essential Journal

  /  Food & Drink   /  The Recipe: Grilled Octopus with Squid Ink Lentils

The Recipe: Grilled Octopus with Squid Ink Lentils

Courtesy of Orexi! by Theo A. Michaels

I remember trying to catch octopus as a kid while in Cyprus. Hunting for octopus (it is a hunt by the way, not a passive pastime like fishing) is an exercise in dexterity, intellect and speed – and it turns out octopuses have those traits in more abundance than ten-year-old Theo had. I never caught one. 

Whenever you are going to grill, barbecue or fry an octopus, it always starts with a slow braise to tenderize it. Cooking it on a barbecue is wonderful. The raw heat of hot coals combined with the charcoal smokiness is divine. A super-hot grill makes the best alternative, however, which is how we’re going to do this one. You’ll also need bread, wine and family for this.


1 octopus, about 2 kg/41/2 lb., prepared* (see Note below)
2 dried bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sumac
A generous pinch of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
200 g/1 cup pre-cooked Puy lentils
1/2 teaspoon squid ink
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and finely sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for drizzling

SERVES 8–12 


* Note: Rinse the octopus and cut the hood from the body (just above the eyes). Cut just below the eyes to remove the tentacles, keeping them intact (discard the piece holding the eyes). Finally, push the beak from the centre of where the tentacles join. 

Place the prepared octopus in a large pot with a few generous pinches of salt, the bay leaves and 2 of the garlic cloves. Cover with enough cold water to cover fully. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 45 minutes, until you can pierce the flesh with a knife with little resistance. Don’t overcook it, as the suckers on the tentacles will start to come off. Octopus has a habit of floating, so either place a lid on the pot or place a small saucer on top of the octopus to help keep it submerged. 

Put the cooked octopus into a bowl with a few glugs of olive oil to stop it sticking. Peel a few strips of rind from the lemon and add to the bowl. Set this one side until ready to cook. 

Meanwhile, mash the last garlic clove to a pulp with a little salt. Whisk with a few glugs of olive oil and squeeze in about half the amount of lemon juice to oil. Add the sumac and finely chopped parsley and mix. 

Mix the Puy lentils with the squid ink and season with a little pepper. When you are ready to grill/broil the octopus, separate the tentacles with a sharp knife and slice the hood into four pieces. Get the grill/broiler as hot as possible. Shake off the excess olive oil from the octopus, season with a pinch of salt, and then grill/broil it close to the heat for a few minutes until it crisps up. Turn the pieces over and char the other side. Remove and brush over the garlic-lemon-sumac dressing. 

Scatter the squid ink Puy lentils over a large platter dish, distribute the sliced red onion amongst the lentils, then randomly place the octopus over the top. Taste for seasoning and finish with a little sliced red chilli.