Octopus Salad

This is one of the most popular dishes served in restaurants and konobe (traditional Croatian eateries) along the Adriatic coast. It’s the perfect light and fresh start to a meal, especially on a warm summer day. There are hundreds of variations of this dish and every family treasures their own special recipe. It is fairly easy to prepare and, when you become confident in making it, you can add your own personal touch – adding some capers, salad leaves or even olives. But, whatever you do, don’t put fruit in your octopus salad as this might cause you to lose your Croatian friends!Excerpted with permission from Dalmatia by Ino Kuvačić, published by Hardie Grant Books May 2017, RRP $40.00 hardcover. Slideshow: More Octopus Recipes 

Octopus Salad
Photo: Chris Middleton and Ino Kuvačić


  • 1 kilogram (2 pounds 3 ounces) octopus

  • 200 grams (7 ounces) waxy potatoes, such as desiree, sebago or nicola

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 10 peppercorns

  • 80 milliliters (2 1/2 fluid ounces/ 1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 40 milliliters (1 1/4 fluid ounces) red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped

  • 200 grams (7 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 small Lebanese (short) cucumbers, sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley

  • Sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. First, you need to tenderise the octopus. Fishmongers can do this for you by spinning the octopus in an oyster-cleaning machine. If you plan to tenderise it yourself, freeze the octopus for 2–3 days, then defrost it completely and beat the octopus all over with a mallet or a rolling pin to break down the muscles.

  2. Cook the potatoes in their skins in boiling salted water until soft. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into 1 centimeter (1/2 inch) thick slices.

  3. Bring 2 liters (68 fluid ounces/8 cups) water, the bay leaves and peppercorns to the boil (do not season the water with salt). Put the octopus in the boiling water and cook for 12 minutes. Strain the octopus and let it cool for 5 minutes.

  4. Remove the octopus skin and cut the tentacles into 5 millimeters (1/4 inch) slices. Transfer to a serving dish. While the octopus is still warm, add the olive oil, vinegar, potato, onion, tomato, cucumber, garlic, parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve.

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