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Octopus ceviche {Ceviche de pulpo}

This is my easy recipe for a simple octopus ceviche, aka ceviche de pulpo, and it’s made with cooked octopus, red onions, hot peppers, lime juice, and cilantro.

Octopus ceviche or ceviche de pulpo recipe

En Español

Octopus ceviche was the first ceviche I really enjoyed. I was very picky about seafood when I was a kid. I could only handle a few bites of shrimp or fish (in ceviches or any other dish) and that was it. I found the taste of most seafood dishes to be overpowering (not anymore though), except ceviche de pulpo, I loved it. The octopus ceviche I remember was perfect, in particular the octopus was just perfectly tender and it had that perfect balance of seafood taste.

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Ceviche de pulpo or octopus ceviche

I’ve always wanted to make octopus ceviche, but it’s hard to find fresh octopus. Whole Foods can order it for you. The guys at one of the Pike Place Market seafood stalls told me the only time you can find it fresh is when it is caught by accident. It just so happens that I was at the market on a day they had some, so I snatched it up, and was so excited to finally make octopus ceviche.

Octopus ceviche preparation

However, I have never cooked octopus before, so I did some Google research and found out that it was quite complicated to cook it just right, first you had to pound it with a heavy object, another person mentioned that the secret was to add a cork to the boiling water, another site said to steam it, another one said to boil it for 3 minutes and then alternate with ice water and boiling, so I tried this last suggestion plus the cork, and it was a disaster, my poor beautiful octopus shrunk into a tiny rubbery disgusting brown looking thing.

Simple octopus ceviche

I was determined to have octopus ceviche (and was having a small lunch for some friends), and I remembered seeing cooked octopus at Uwajimaya, a local Asian supermarket, so I used it instead.  The cooked (steamed) octopus that they sell in the sushi/sashimi section of Uwajimaya is perfect for ceviche – it’s fairly tender, but if you want it even extra tender.

I recommend putting it in the freezer a few hours before making the ceviche, then cut it very thinly (it won’t be completely frozen and will be perfect by the time the ceviche is done marinating. These days you can also find perfectly cooked octopus at Costco. Just rinse it well before using it.

Ceviche de pulpo recipe

 The ceviche was pretty good and my food tasters (friends) said they liked it (they ate it), but my memory of Ecuadorian octopus ceviche has the fresh from the sea flavor that is hard to match. On one of my last trips to Ecuador we spent a week at the beach and I learned how to to cook it from a local lady who is an amazing cook. One of her tips for knowing when it’s ready is when you can easily scrape the skin off. I’m hoping to put together a tutorial in case anyone wants to learn how to cook it.

Ceviche de pulpo recipe

Octopus ceviche {Ceviche de pulpo}

Recipe for octopus ceviche made with cooked octopus, onions, hot peppers, lime juice, and cilantro.
4.81 from 291 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Starter
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Fusion, Latin American
Keyword: Ceviche, Octopus, Octopus ceviche, Pulpo
Servings: 4 people as large appetizer or 8 people as a small tasting appetizer

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lb cooked octopus meat
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced, about 1 ½ cups
  • Juice of 8 limes + 2 juice of limes to pickle onions
  • 2-3 tbs finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbs oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: 2-3 hot peppers serranos or red chilies, seeded and diced or sliced

Instructions

  • Cut the octopus meat into small bit size slices.
  • Place the sliced onions in a bowl, add some salt and cover with water. Let rest for about 10 minutes, drain and rinse well.
  • Place the octopus in a non-reactive container, add the lime juice, ½ of the onions, hot peppers and salt, let marinate for a couple of hours.
  • Place the remaining onions in a non-reactive bowl, add the remaining lime juice, some salt and let marinate for a couple of hours.
  • Combine the marinating octopus with the pickled onions, the sunflower oil, and the cilantro, mix well. Add additional salt if needed.
  • Serve with chifles, patacones, popcorn, or corn nuts.

Notes

For a more classic Ecuadorian octopus ceviche you can also add diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, and a bit of freshly blended tomatoes.

Step by step preparation photos for octopus ceviche

Octopus ceviche ingredients
Ceviche de pulpo
Octopus ceviche
Octopus ceviche shot
Ceviche de pulpo
Octopus ceviche
Octopus ceviche or ceviche de pulpo
Pulpo or octopus ceviche

Looking for a different type of ceviche?

Shrimp ceviche

Mango ceviche

Ramon’s fish ceviche

Mafi’s fish ceviche

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26 Comments

  1. My grandmother (a Calabrian who was transplanted to Buenos Aires) always made really great pulpo; it was perfectly tender and mild, even to us kids, who would rather have been eating las hamburguesas.

    Your beautiful ceviche looks pretty darn good too! :)

  2. Hi Ariel, ceviche made with fish should always be “cooked” in the lime juice, though even then sometimes the fish is immersed in boiling water and then finished off in the lime juice, I’ve seen this done both when time is an issue, the fish is very tough (shark ceviche) or when the fish isn’t as fresh as it should be for ceviche (more likely to happen if you are a city or town that is far away from the beach). Other ceviches that are cooked in lime juice or sometimes not even cooked but just marinated are ceviche de concha – made from black clams – and it is typically prepared right in front of you, as well as oyster ceviche. Other seafood is usually cooked or cooked to the point where it’s almost done before making the ceviche, this is the case for shrimp ceviche (which is cooked in either beer or coconut milk), as well as octopus, squid, chicken (yes there is chicken ceviche). This is just based on ceviches in Ecuador, I’m sure that other Latin countries have different types and ways of preparing ceviche.

  3. Dur, never mind! I just actually read the RECIPE rather than just the surrounding post. :) It sure looks beautiful, though!!!

  4. Now, I could be completely, completely wrong on this, but I thought that what was peculiar (and special!) about ceviche, was that is was never cooked with heat, but rather using the acids in the citrus (lime) to “cook” the fish (essentially like pickling it)?

    I’m pretty sure that’s why ceviche’s have such a long marinade time? To allow things to really get “cooked” through? Maybe that will help with the octopus?

  5. Hi Matt, I’ve tried using olive oil in other types of ceviche (fish, shrimp) and it tends to make it bitter, however I think it might work with the octopus. The day I learn to cook octopus properly I want to try making a very delicious Peruvian dish called “pulpo al olivo”, which is octopus in an olive sauce.

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