Harissa Octopus with Heirloom Tomatoes + 10 Tips for Cooking Octopus

harissa octopus with heirloom tomatoes & chive blossoms, plus ten tips for cooking octopus

serves: 4

  • Author: Kayla Howey



Harissa Octopus

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 qts water
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 (3-pound) octopus, beak removed
  • olive oil, as needed
  • harissa powder, as needed

Tomatoes & Chive Blossoms

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful basil leaves, torn
  • 3 chive blossoms
  • olive oil, as needed
  • flaky sea salt, as needed


Harissa Octopus

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the diced onion, carrot, and red pepper. Let sauté for about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the smashed garlic cloves, fresh oregano sprigs, and fresh thyme sprigs.

3. Pour in the white wine, vinegar, and sugar. Let the liquid come to a simmer. Lower the heat and let the liquid simmer for 8 minutes.

4. Pour in the water and add the salt. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot before dropping the lemons right in.

5. Bring the liquid back to a simmer over medium heat. Submerge the whole octopus into the liquid and immediately turn the heat to the lowest setting. Make sure the entire octopus is covered with the liquid (use a pan to hold the octopus down if it is sticking out).

6. Simmer the octopus for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with a paring knife. Do not allow the liquid to come above a very gentle simmer.

7. Turn off the heat and let the octopus cool in the liquid. Remove the octopus and pat dry. Use a paper towel to remove the skin. Cut the tentacles off of the body and place them in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the octopus with a generous amount of olive oil and season with a generous amount of harissa powder. Gently toss.

8. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Gently place each piece of octopus into the hot skillet. Let sear until the exterior forms a crust. Flip each piece over and sear on the other side. (Do not overcrowd the skillet. Work in batches if needed.)

9. When the octopus is seared and fully heated through, transfer it to a cutting board. Cut each tentacle into 2.5-inch pieces on a diagonal.

Tomatoes & Chive Blossoms

1. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, green onions, and basil to a mixing bowl.

2. Thinly slice the chives and cut the purple flowers off of each chive blossom. Add both the chives and flowers to the bowl.

3. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into the bowl and toss well. Season with the flaky sea salt to taste.

4. Plate a mound of tomatoes onto a plate and arrange the octopus over top.