Indonesian octopus with grilled vegetables and noodles Recipe

This Indonesian octopus with grilled vegetables and noodles is a perfect example of fusion between Indonesian and European cuisines. Indonesian cuisine in Indonesia is quite traditional but in the Netherlands Chefs often experiment and combine European dishes with Indonesian influences.

Indonesian octopus tentacles with grilled vegetables and noodles

Indonesian and Spanish fusion

I'm a huge fan of Spanish grilled pulpo and this Indonesian octopus with grilled vegetables and noodles is the best of both worlds. The octopus tentacles are cooked the Spanish way while an Indonesian spice paste (bumbu) gives the dish a typical Indonesian flavor. The spice paste (bumbu) consists of typical key Indonesian ingredients like galangal (laos), ginger (djahé), lemongrass (sereh), Kaffir lime leaves (daun djeruk perut), ground coriander (ketumbar), ground cumin (djinten) and of course fermented shrimp paste (trassi).


The spice paste (bumbu) is first fried, whereafter octopus tentacles, low sodium chicken stock, bruised lemongrass (sereh) and torn Kaffir lime leaves (daun djeruk perut) are added, ensuring a fresh fragrance. After simmering for about 1,5 hours the octopus tentacles are tender and ready to eat. For the best - and tender - result, I'd recommend to freeze the octopus tentacles before cooking. Freezing will break down the muscle tissue and ensures even more tender meat. You could also beat them with the back of your knife but upfront freezing is more convenient. I prefer to grill them afterwards on high heat, until slightly charred, giving the tentacles a nice barbecue taste.


The vegetables are prepared more or less the Spanish way, although I added lime juice, ground chili (powder or flakes) and ground onion (powder) for a slightly more complex flavor. Udon noodles are a personal favorite of mine, but you can substitute them with any (rice) noodle you like. For convenience, you could also chop the vegetables in pieces after you grilled them.


How to make Indonesian style octopus tentacles with grilled vegetables and noodles

First, clean the octopus tentacles with water and drain them. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Freeze the tentacles for 30 minutes, this will break down the muscle tissue and ensures tender meat. Defrost the tentacles before making the spice paste (bumbu).


Spice paste (bumbu)

In the meantime make the spice paste (bumbu). Chop the onion, garlic and chilies roughly. Peel galangal and ginger root and chop roughly. Remove veins of Kaffir lime leaves and chop finely. Add chopped onion, garlic, chilies, galangal, ginger combined with ground smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin and fermented shrimp paste (trassi) to a food processor and pulse until a smooth paste forms.


Octopus tentacles

Heat oil in a casserole/ stew pan and add the spice paste (bumbu). Fry the spice paste for 5 – 10 minutes until it’s fragrant and the onion is cooked. Add 300ml/ 10 fl. oz. low sodium chicken stock, torn Kaffir lime leaves, bruised lemongrass stalks and bring to a boil. Add octopus tentacles and simmer on low heat for at least 1,5 hours and then remove octopus tentacles from the casserole.


Vegetables, sauce, noodles and grilling

In the meantime wash and clean the vegetables and marinate them with vegetable oil, lime juice, ground chili and ground onion.


Sieve the sauce twice and add to a small sauce pan. Reduce the sauce for about 10 – 15 minutes until it has thickened.


In the meantime, heat a grill or barbecue. Once it’s heated add the vegetables and grill them for about 10 – 15 minutes until they’re nicely charred and tender. Boil the udon noodles for 10 minutes, drain with cold water and set aside. Grill the octopus tentacles on high heat for about 5 minutes until nicely charred.


The great assembly

Assemble the plates. Start with the udon noodles and sprinkle them with half of the reduced sauce. Add grilled vegetables to the plate and top of with the octopus tentacles. Sprinkle them with the rest of the sauce and garnish with finely chopped chili, finely sliced spring onions and fried onions or shallots.

Indonesian octopus tentacles with grilled vegetables and noodles


Ingredients for 4 people

For the octopus:

  • 1 kg/ 2.2 pound octopus tentacles

  • 300 ml/ 10 fl. oz. low sodium chicken stock

  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves (daun djeruk perut), leaves torn

  • 2 lemongrass stalks (sereh), outer layers removed and bruised

For the spice paste (bumbu):

  • 1 big yellow or white onion

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 2 long red chilies (lombok)

  • 1 Thai bird’s eye chili (cabe rawit), seeds and stems removed

  • 4 cm/ 1.6 inch peeled galangal root (or 2 teaspoons ground galangal)

  • 4 cm/ 1.6 inch peeled ginger root (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)

  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves (daun djeruk perut), veins removed

  • 2 teaspoons ground smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander (ketumbar)

  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin (djintan)

  • 2 teaspoons fermented shrimp paste (trassi)

For the vegetables and noodles:

  • 200gr/ 7 ounce green asparagus

  • 200gr/ 7 ounce carrot

  • 200gr/ 7 ounce bok choy

  • 400gr / 14 ounce udon noodles

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 1 teaspoon ground chili (powder)

  • 1 teaspoon ground onion (powder)

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the garnish:

  • 2 long red chilies (lombok), stems and seeds removed, finely chopped

  • 2 spring onions, only the green parts, finely sliced

  • Fried onions or shallots

Instructions

  • Clean the octopus tentacles with water and drain. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Freeze the tentacles for 30 – 60 minutes, this will break down the muscle tissue and ensures tender meat. Remove the tentacles before making the spice paste (bumbu) to defrost them.

  • In the meantime make the spice paste (bumbu). Chop the onion, garlic and chilies roughly. Peel galangal and ginger root and chop roughly. Remove veins of Kaffir lime leaves and chop finely. Add chopped onion, garlic, chilies, galangal, ginger combined with ground smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin and fermented shrimp paste (trassi) to a food processor and pulse until a smooth paste forms.

  • Heat oil in a casserole/ stew pan and add the spice paste (bumbu). Fry the spice paste for 5 – 10 minutes until it’s fragrant and the onion is cooked.

  • Add 300ml/ 10 fl. oz. low sodium chicken stock, torn Kaffir lime leaves, bruised lemongrass stalks and bring to a boil.

  • Add octopus tentacles and simmer on low heat for at least 1,5 hours and then remove octopus tentacles from the casserole. In the meantime, wash and clean the vegetables and marinate them with vegetable oil, lime juice, ground chili and ground onion.

  • Sieve the sauce twice and add to a small sauce pan. Reduce the sauce for about 10 – 15 minutes until it has thickened.

  • In the meantime, heat a grill or barbecue. Once it’s heated add the vegetables and grill them for about 10 – 15 minutes until they’re nicely charred and tender. Boil the udon noodles for 10 minutes, drain with cold water and set aside. Grill the octopus tentacles on high heat for about 5 minutes until nicely charred.

  • Assemble the plates. Start with the udon noodles and sprinkle them with half of the reduced sauce. Add grilled vegetables to the plate and top of with the octopus tentacles. Sprinkle them with the rest of the sauce and garnish with finely chopped chili, finely sliced spring onions and fried onions or shallots.

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