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Tako: what is this Japanese octopus delicacy?

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Tako is the Japanese word for octopus. Octopuses are a type of cephalopod, a group of animals that includes squid and cuttlefish.

Tako can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. It is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine.

Tako Japanese octopus

A lot of Japanese dishes call for boiled octopus so I thought it helpful to describe how to cook octopus beforehand so you’ll have the perfect piece for your recipe.

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How long should you boil octopus?

It fully depends on the size of your octopus.

I recommend boiling for 30 minutes for a small octopus, and up to 60 minutes for a large one.

A good rule of thumb is to cook the octopus for 15 minutes per pound of meat. Then prick it with a fork to see if it’s done and add another 10 minutes at a time if not.

If you’re unsure, err on the side of overcooking rather than undercooking, as octopus that isn’t cooked through can be tough and rubbery.

Once your octopus is cooked, transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and help it retain its tender texture. Now your octopus is ready to be used in any dish you like!

Can you boil octopus too long?

Yes, you can overcook octopus.

If you do, it will become tough and rubbery. So if you’re unsure, it’s better to cook it for a bit shorter than too long, especially if you’re using it in a recipe that requires further cooking or grilling.

How long does it take to soften octopus?

You’ll need to simmer octopus for at least 30 minutes, but it can take up to 2 hours depending on the size and thickness of your piece.

How do you know when an octopus is fully cooked?

One way to know for sure is to use a cooking thermometer. Octopus is cooked through when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Another way to tell is by using a fork to prick the meat. If the fork slides in easily, then the octopus is done.

If the fork meets resistance, give it a few more minutes of cooking time.

Once your octopus is cooked, transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and help it retain its tender texture. Now your octopus is ready to be used in any dish you like!

Do you add salt when boiling octopus?

Yes, you will want to add salt to the water when boiling octopus. This helps to tenderize the meat and also seasons it so it’s not bland and brings out the sea flavor of the meat.

How much salt should you add? I recommend using 1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 cups of water.

What is octopus called when cooked?

A boiled octopus is called Yanagidako, which means “cleaned octopus.” It is fully cooked and edible from head to tentacle.

Yanagidako can be served whole or sliced and is often found in salads, ceviche, soups, and sushi preparations.

How long should you grill octopus?

Grilling octopus is a great way to add smoky flavor and get a nice char on the outside.

To grill, you’ll want to grill the (already boiled) octopus for 2-3 minutes per side over medium-high heat.

If you’re using small pieces, be careful not to overcook or they will become tough.

Once your octopus is grilled, transfer it to a plate and enjoy!

Should you boil octopus before grilling?

Yes, you should boil octopus before grilling. This ensures that the octopus is cooked through before adding any char from grilling.

Can you eat raw octopus?

No, you should not eat raw octopus as it can contain harmful bacteria. Octopus should be cooked thoroughly before eating.

What is the best way to store octopus?

Octopus can be stored in the fridge, either whole or cleaned and sliced.

If storing whole, make sure it is in a covered container or bag. It will keep fresh for 2-3 days.

If storing sliced, it is best to store it in a covered container or bag with a damp paper towel to keep it from drying out. It will keep fresh for 1-2 days.

Octopus can also be frozen for up to 6 months. If you’re freezing it, it is best to slice it first so it will thaw more quickly when you’re ready to use it.

The octopus has long been a popular seafood item in Japan. It is said that the first recorded instance of octopus being eaten in Japan was in 669 AD.

In the 8th century, a Japanese envoy to China brought back a recipe for boiled octopus. Octopus became more popular in the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was often served in sushi restaurants.

The dish takoyaki, grilled octopus balls, was invented in the 1930s and has since become a popular street food.

Tako was a cheap protein in that period and readily available from fishermen, that’s why it was used more and more and street foods like takoyaki were invented around it.

How do you eat tako?

There are many ways to eat tako. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. Tako is often served with rice and vegetables. It can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes such as sushi, tempura, and stir-fries.

What does “tako” mean?

Tako means octopus in Japanese so every dish that has tako in it (takoyaki, takobiki) has octopus as its main ingredient.

Types of dishes that use tako


-Takoyaki: grilled octopus balls

-Takobiki: thinly sliced raw octopus

-Takosen: fried wontons with an octopus filling

-Sunomono: a vinegar-based dish that can include octopus as one of its ingredients

– Tempura: battered and fried seafood and vegetables, octopus can be one of the seafood ingredients

-Sushi: raw fish or other ingredients on vinegared rice, octopus is often used as sushi filling or topping

-Stir-fry: a dish made by stir-frying ingredients in a pan, octopus can be one of the ingredients

There are many ways to season tako, but some popular methods include grilling with soy sauce, tempura batter with dipping sauce, and sushi with wasabi and soy sauce.

Tako is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine because it is delicious and versatile.

Rice and vegetables are popular accompaniments to tako dishes. Other common pairings include soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Where to eat tako?

There are many places to eat tako in Japan. Takoyaki stalls can be found in most cities. Sushi restaurants often serve tako sushi.

So it’s not just reserved for high-end restaurants or only street food vendors.

Health benefits of tako

Tako is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is also low in calories and fat. Octopus contains high levels of taurine, an amino acid that is beneficial for the heart.

Some people believe that eating octopus can improve brain function because of the high levels of iron and copper in the animal’s brain.

Octopus is also a good source of selenium, which is an important nutrient for the immune system.

While there are many health benefits to eating tako, it is important to remember that octopus is a high-cholesterol food. It is best to eat it in moderation.


Tako is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in many different dishes. It is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

So the next time you come across it, just try a piece!

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Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.