Tenderizing Octopus (Tako) At Home

Sometimes the opportunity presents itself where you may acquire fresh octopus and with to make tako sushi or sashimi. Consider yourself lucky as fresh octopus is wonderful, and a treat that is far better than the octopus usually found in restaurants (which usually arrived frozen and cooked who knows how long ago). This simple method is what I use to great effect.


  • 4-5 pounds frozen octopus
  • Kombu (Japanese kelp)
  • 2 oz sea salt
  • Daikon (Japanese radish)
  • Water

To Prepare:

  1. Put on a pot of water, about a gallon, depending on the size of the octopus, and add a good sized piece of kombu and about 2 oz of sea salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Thaw the octopus (if it is frozen) in cold water, then drain well.
  3. Knead the octopus with a large amount of fresh grated/chopped daikon radish and sea salt. What this does is to clean off any slime, and it also tightens the skin up just a bit. While doing that, turn the head inside out and check for any leftover viscera. Remove any that’s found, then return the head sac to it’s correct shape.
  4. Using a fork, dunk the octopus into the boiling water a few times until the tentacles curl up. Lower the heat a bit, and then simmer the octopus for about 5-10 minutes. After that turn the heat off and cover the pot.
  5. Let the tako cool in the liquid for at least an hour, then into the fridge the whole thing goes. Overnight is great if you can manage it, it’s the slow cooling that tenderizes it. Remove the octopus from the water and let it dry a bit. Slice on an angle, then serve as you like.

You’ll probably find the skin around the head to be very tough. This skin is better off discarded. The very top of the tentacles where they conjoin into the head will probably also have a gelatinous layer right under the skin that’s not too edible either so should be removed as well.

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