A couple of times a year, my husband, Scott, likes to surprise our daughter, Nena, by bringing home octopus to smoke. It was during a family vacation to Hawaii many years ago that Nena fell in love with “Smoked Tako.” That’s the Hawaiian name for smoked octopus (“tako” is Japanese for “octopus”). Flying to Hawaii a few times a year is not in our budget, so we had to come up with our own version of smoked tako to keep Nena happy!
Smoked Octopus Brine
Although I tried many different brines, they never achieved the flavor I was going for or one that would satisfy Nena. They were either too sweet, too salty, not enough flavor, or the wrong flavor altogether. Luckily, I’m not one to give up easily! After a lot of trial and error, I came up with this brine. It was good enough for Nena to approve, and I hope it satisfies your picky eaters too!
Cleaning and Preparing the Octopus
Before you can make smoked octopus, it needs to be brined. But before even that happens, we need to clean and prepare it. This step is not for the faint of heart. It’s a little slimy, but I know you could do it! You will need to remove the head from the tentacles and remove what’s inside, leaving only the hood. Then you will need to remove the beak from the top of the tentacles. Yes, octopus have beaks, go figure! Although you’ll notice in the clip below she refers to the beak as “guts.” Check out this short but helpful clip that demonstrates how to clean the baby octopus, then come on back!
If you are still with me and didn’t get grossed out by the video, awesome, glad you’re back! Read on for the rest f the recipe!
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If you enjoy smoked recipes, you might also like my smoked brisket recipe!
Succulent smoked baby octopus. Add to a salad, or eat as a snack!
Mix the brine ingredients, making sure the salt is completely dissolved. Place octopus in the brine and refrigerate overnight.
Set an electric smoker to 140 degrees F. While the smoker is heating up, soak hickory wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Remove octopus from the brine solution and arrange on the smoker shelves. When 30 minutes have elapsed, drain the wood chips and add to the smoker
When the smoker is ready, place shelves back inside the smoker. Smoke for 1 to 11/2 hours, or until you achieve the desired flavor/texture.
Once you're satisfied with the results, remove the octopus from the smoker, and go to town on those bad boys! Nena likes to eat them like jerky, but I'm sure other ideas can be found online, such as adding them to a salad, or pasta. Have fun creating!