Ceviche de Pulpo

Octopus Ceviche

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 8


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

Have your fishmonger clean and cut the octopus for you. After that, preparation is a breeze. This is a great Valentine’s Day appetizer, because legend says octopus is an aphrodisiac. You can serve it in martini glasses and decorate them with red hearts and ribbons. Our Valentine’s Day in Colombia is a holiday called Love and Friendship Day that is celebrated on the second Friday of September. Since we have the same climate year-round, we have all the seafood we need then, so I like preparing this for that occasion as well.


  • 1 stalk celery, quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 to 4 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 to 4 sprigs dill or thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pounds octopus bodies, heads and long tentacles removed
  • 1 cup diced onion


  • ¾ cup lime juice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 drops Tabasco sauce
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • Crackers or mini-tartlets, for serving


  1. In a medium pot or pressure cooker place 12 cups of water, the celery, carrot, onion, cilantro, dill or thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add the octopus and simmer covered over medium heat for 1 hour; if you use a pressure cooker you can cut the cooking time to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the octopus from the pot. Discard the liquid and flavorings.
  3. Cut the octopus into ½ inch pieces and place in a nonreactive bowl.
  4. In a small pot bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the diced onion and blanch for 15 seconds. Drain, dry on paper towels, and add to the octopus.
  5. To PREPARE THE DRESSING mix the lime juice, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper, and Tabasco in a nonreactive bowl. Add the oil and whisk well to incorporate.
  6. Pour the dressing over the octopus and fold together with the onion. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours for the octopus to absorb the flavors of the sauce.
  7. Serve cold with crackers or in mini-tartlets.