Deep-fried Octopus is an octopus version of Karaage. Marinated octopus pieces are coated in corn flour/cornstarch, then deep-fried for no more than a minute. Octopus Karaage is an Izakaya dishes and goes perfectly with drinks. But it is also a great side dish or even a main dish.
I used uncooked octopus as it penetrates the marinade better than boiled octopus. I also like the slightly chewy but tender texture of the octopus that you cannot get from the boiled octopus.
What’s in My Deep-fried Octopus (Octopus Karaage)
There aren’t many ingredients required to make Octopus Karrage. Unlike Chicken Karaage, I added garlic to the Marinade, which makes the dish more Izakaya-style.
- Fresh octopus tentacles
- Corn flour/cornstarch
- Oil for deep-frying
- Soy sauce
- Grated ginger
- Grated garlic
As mentioned in the section About Karaage in my post, Karaage Chicken, the coating can be either corn flour or wheat flour. Compared to wheat flour, corn flour makes the surface of the ingredient slightly crunchier when deep-fried. So, I used corn flour today. But you can use wheat flour if you like.
If you wish, you can add cooking sake to the marinade, but then you need to marinate the octopus for a slightly longer period. This is because the flavour of the marinade is not as strong as just using soy sauce.
How to Make Deep-fried Octopus (Octopus Karaage)
Making Octopus Karaage is a very simple process. The only thing to watch for is oil splatter. I added a note on how to prevent it and protect yourself from it, but it happens when deep-frying fresh octopus.
- Pound the octopus tentacles using a meat pounder (flat side) or a heavy pestle. This tenderises the flesh.
- (Optional) remove the skin on the tentacles.
- Cut the tentacles into small bite-size pieces.
- Marinate the octopus in a zip lock bag for 15 minutes.
- Pat-dry the octopus pieces and dust them with corn flour/cornstarch.
- Deep-fry the octopus for 1 minute.
There are a couple of reasons the oil splatters when deep-frying octopus. One obvious reason is water around the octopus pieces. Pat-drying the octopus pieces well, particularly in the suction cups along the tentacles, and coating them thoroughly with corn flour reduces splatter.
The other reason is the air pocket between the flesh and the skin. This sometimes causes a big explosion. That’s why I added an optional step to remove the skin. The photo below shows the tentacles before (bottom) and after (top) the skin removal.
The downside of removing the skin is that you don’t get the rosewood colour of the cooked octopus skin, which makes the dish more appetising.
To be safe, I would also suggest that you hold a large lid of a pan in front of you as a shield when frying the octopus. This will prevent the oil from splattering onto you.
Using Boiled Octopus VS Raw Octopus
Many Deep-fried Octopus recipes on the internet use boiled octopus instead of fresh octopus. In Japan, boiled octopus is readily available at supermarkets and fish shops. This is because octopus tentacles are thinly sliced and served as sushi toppings or as sashimi (although they are not raw).
This is probably one of the reasons why many Japanese recipes use boiled octopus. It is easier to prepare and quicker to deep-fry. Boiled octopus also reduces oil splatter significantly.
Uncooked octopus needs more preparation, and you might get a terrible oil splatter. You also need to avoid overcooking as overcooked octopus is very chewy.
But in my view, Deep-fried Octopus made from raw octopus has a better flavour. I also like the slightly chewy but tender texture.
Where I live, octopus is sold uncooked. So, I’d rather deep-fry raw octopus than boiling it then deep-frying. But if you are not used to deep-frying and concerned about oil splatter, you may boil the octopus at first, then marinate the pieces.
You can freeze octopus without or with marinade, which makes this dish even quicker to make.
Octopus Karaage is so tasty. Even if you need to handle a weird-looking creature and you might get oil splatter, I think that it is worth trying.
Deep-fried Octopus (Octopus Karaage)
- 200g/7.1oz octopus tentacles (uncooked, note 1)
- 1 tbsp corn flour/cornstarch (or wheat flour if you ran out of corn flour)
- Oil to deep-fry
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp ginger grated
- ½ tsp garlic grated
- Gently pound the octopus tentacles using a meat pounder (flat side) or a heavy pestle. This tenderises the flesh.
- Cut the tentacles into small bite-size pieces. Cut into about 2cm/¾” long at the fattest part, cut longer as you get to the thinner part of the tentacle.
- Put the Marinade ingredients and octopus pieces in a zip lock bag and massage well.
- Remove air as much as possible, seal the bag and marinate for 15 minutes (note 3).
- Drain the marinade and dry the octopus pieces with a couple of pieces of kitchen paper. Ensure that you dry the centre of the suction cups (water = oil splatter).
- Dust the octopus pieces with corn flour/cornstarch.
- Fill a small deep-frying pan or a shallow saucepan with oil to 2.5cm/1” deep (note 4). Heat the oil to 180°C/356°F.
- Gently drop a half or a third (depending on the size of your pan) of the octopus pieces into the oil and fry for no more than 1 minute (note 5). Roll the octopus pieces a couple of times while frying.
- Transfer the octopus to a tray with a rack or lined with kitchen paper to drain excess oil.
- Pile the cooked octopus up on a serving plate. Serve while hot or at room temperature (note 5).