A Quick Saute Makes Canned Octopus Taste So Much Better

Canned octopus may sound like a complete novelty, but with the tinned seafood market climbing to $35.27 billion in 2024, you may see it occasionally on grocery store shelves. And yet, we don't blame you if canned octopus seems a little unappetizing. The mollusk has a light, mild flavor and a texture that ranges from soft to chewy. In short, it doesn't taste like too much on its own — but if you cook it properly, it can convert from a rather bland seafood into a tasty treat.

To jazz up canned octopus, all you need to do is give it a quick saute. This will transform the texture of your mollusk from slightly rubbery on the inside to tender, but with crispy edges. Plus, the oil and any seasonings you add will give your seafood some much-needed flavor. In fact, if you are interested in trying octopus, using the canned stuff is an easy way to do it. While the fresh seafood typically needs to be boiled before it's sauteed, you can dump your tinned chunks straight into a pan.

Take advantage of the sauce in the can

While you can add extra flavor to your canned octopus, keep in mind what the seafood is packed in when doing so. You'll typically see versions swimming in water or olive oil, but you may also see tins with garlic sauce, sunflower oil, tomato sauce, or even butter, so pick one that suits your tastebuds. If yours comes packed in water, you'll want to drain your seafood before tossing it in a pan with olive oil and seasonings. But if it comes with olive oil or a sauce you want to keep working with, feel free to dump the whole container right into the pan.

From there, add sliced shallots, minced garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, or chopped herbs to your pan. You'll want to saute it at low temperatures for up to 15 minutes, until the edges look nice and crispy, and finish it off with a dash of lemon juice. While your octopus will be delicious if you gobble it up as-is, perhaps with some crusty bread, you can also experiment with adding it to pastas, soups, stews, tacos, salads, and side dishes with veggies. Or try your hand at frita de pulpo, a classic dish from Ibiza that pairs boiled octopus with fried onions, peppers, potatoes, garlic, and a bay leaf. All it takes is a quick saute, and you've opened the door to a ton of tasty octopus-infused meals.