Grilled Baby Octopus and grilled smashed potatoes 子鮹のグリルと焼き潰しジャガイモ

japanese cake

I don’t think I’ve ever seen uncooked baby octopuses in a regular grocery store.  Last time we went to the market to get pasteurized eggs, to our surprise, they had fresh baby octopuses. It was also very cheap (less than $5 per pound and I could not resist getting some). I decided to marinade them in both Western and Japanese styles and just grill them on a charcoal fire.

In the picture below, the left four are Western style and the right 5 are Japanese style in the back row (This is the first batch that we grilled, we had much more). Aren’t they cute? The front row is smashed and grilled potatoes. I think this definitely qualifies for Izakaya food.

Western style Marinade: Lemon juice (from one medium lemon), lemon zest (from one lemon before squeezing its juice using a micrograter), olive oil (3-4 tbs), salt and pepper. I also added fresh thyme (finely chopped) from our herb garden.

Japanese style marinade: Sake, Mirin, and soy sauce (1:1:2) with several slices of fresh ginger.

I marinated the octopuses for several hours in the refrigerator. I drained the marinade and simply grilled them for 2-3 minutes turning frequently (below, left). As per my wife’s idea (she got the idea from one of the issues of Cook Illustrated), she microwaved baby red potatoes, then coated them with oil and smash them flat. We then grilled both sides (below, right).

Both styles had lots of flavor, especially the Western version had nice lemony and thyme flavors. Only problem was that both were a bit chewy. For most Japanese, this degree of chewiness is Ok but not for most Westerners including my wife. I ended up cutting them into small pieces.

Since we made perilla seedpod Tsukudani 紫蘇の実の佃煮, we tried it on the potatoes. it is much better than just salt. It has very interesting taste, sweet and saltiness and popping texture. We also made our usual grilled rice balls. These food all went very well with cold sake and we stayed until dark on our back deck. 

Our neighbor’s dog showed up and hung around despite her owner’s calling. She was not about to leave our barbecue. She may get in trouble if this continues.

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