Spicy Grilled Octopus and Watermelon Skewers

These Asian-leaning appetizers are a great start to any seafood-themed meal.


  • Octopus:
  • 1/2 cup gochujang (Korean chile paste)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 pounds octopus (preferably from 1 large octopus, head removed and body cleaned; ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 finely sliced kaffir lime leaf or grated zest of 1 lime
  • Watermelon:
  • 1 cup 3/4-inch watermelon cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 leaves thinly sliced Thai basil
  • Salt to taste


To make the octopus, combine the gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl. Rub the octopus with this mixture until it's completely covered and the marinade is used up. Marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Place the octopus and all of its marinade in an 8-inch stainless steel or glass bowl. Cover tightly with foil. Set up a 10-inch pot with a steamer insert or basket. If using an insert, pour 2 inches of water into the pot; if using a basket, fill the pot with enough water to touch the bottom of the basket. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Place the bowl with the octopus inside of the steamer insert or basket. Steam until the octopus is opaque and tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (Periodically check that the water level hasn’t reduced too much; if this happens, pour hot water down the side of the pot until it’s back to the original level.) Remove from the steamer and let cool.

In a medium bowl combine the extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, Thai basil, and kaffir lime leaf. Set aside.

Preheat the grill until very hot. Place the cooled octopus tentacles on the grill and cook over very high heat until lightly charred, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the tentacles into 3/4-inch pieces and toss in the vinaigrette.

To serve, toss the watermelon cubes with the lime juice, Thai basil, and salt. Place a piece of octopus on top of each watermelon cube and secure with a skewer or toothpick.


16 to 20 skewers