Lemon Verbena Octopus Terrine


Chef Jenny Dorsey uses a sous vide machine to gently cook octopus, ensuring a tender result. Vacuum-sealing the octopus with aromatics—including lemon verbena, onion, garlic, ginger, and green peppercorn—infuses it with savory flavor. Use zip-top bags to sous vide the octopus, or special bags made for use with a vacuum sealing machine.

Plated lemon verbena octopus terrine
Photo: Emmanuel Moran
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
14 hrs


For the octopus

  • 1 small octopus (2 pounds), beak removed 

  • 6 grams fresh lemon verbena or 2 tablespoons loosely packed dried lemon verbena

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced onion or shallot

  • 1 tablespoon peeled and thinly sliced ginger

  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 sprig brined green peppercorns or 1/2 teaspoon brined green peppercorns, drained and rinsed

For the pickled mustard seeds

  • ¼ cup yellow mustard seeds, rinsed

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

  • ¼ cup water

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 shallot, halved through core

  • 2 garlic cloves, halved

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 16 fresh blackberries, sliced crosswise


Make the octopus

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add octopus and cook for 1 minute. Transfer octopus to a cutting board. Remove head and cut octopus in half. In a bag for sous vide cooking, combine octopus, coconut oil, lemon verbena, onion, ginger, garlic, salt, and green peppercorns. Shake bag to distribute ingredients. Remove as much air as possible and seal bag. Sous vide octopus for 5 hours at 170°F, according to manufacturer's instructions.

  2. Line 2 mini loaf pans (about 5 1/2 x 3 x 2) with plastic wrap, leaving a 2- to 3-inch overhang. Cut each piece of octopus in half. Arrange the octopus tentacles lengthwise in pans. Strain liquid from sous vide bag through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Spoon a few tablespoons of the liquid into each pan. Fold the plastic overhang over the octopus in the pans. Place a second pan of same size on top of each first pan and top with a can or a very large book to press mixture down. Refrigerate until cold and set, 8 to 12 hours.

Make the garnish

  1. In a pressure cooker, stir mustard seeds, vinegar, water, sugar, shallot, garlic, and salt. Cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Strain mustard seeds, discarding liquid and sliced shallot and garlic. Alternatively, add seeds to a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil; drain and repeat 3 times. Drain mustard seeds and return to pot. Add remaining ingredients to pot, cover, and simmer over low heat until mustard seeds are softened, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

  2. Remove octopus from the loaf pan; peel off plastic wrap. Thinly slice octopus and arrange on plates (if pieces separate from each other, just reassemble on the plate). Spoon small dollops of pickled mustard seeds on top of octopus. Garnish with sliced blackberries.

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