Octopus, chilli and herb salad


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

Octopus, fresh from the Bay of Bengal; shredded blades of saw-tooth coriander, fresh from Thandwe market; all jumbled with lime juice, salt, chilli and onions... need I say more? You’ll find it all at home too..


  • 1 medium octopus, thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • tbsp lime juice
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, very finely shredded, or ½ tsp finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 firm tomatoes, cut into slim wedges and deseeded
  • 4 pink shallots or 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 4 tiny hot red chillies, finely sliced salt
  • handful of long coriander (saw-tooth herb) or regular coriander leaves


Bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil, then pop in the whole octopus and gently simmer for 30-40 minutes, depending on size, or until just tender (test with a knife). Next, drain, slice off and discard the head and beak (located in the ring-hole of the tentacles), then slice the ring of tentacles into arms and cut these into sections. Warm the peanut oil and garlic until the garlic starts to turn golden, then remove from the heat. In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the lime juice, shredded lime leaves or zest and fish sauce until the sugar has dissolved, then toss through the sliced octopus, with the tomatoes, shallots, chillies and garlic-infused peanut oil. Cover and leave to sit for about 20 minutes or so, taste and add a touch of salt if it needs it. Tumble through the coriander just before serving.