Tako Su or Octopus Salad is a refreshing appetizer served in izakaya (Japanese tapas) restaurants. If you enjoy octopus sashimi, here‘s another fun way to prepare octopus.
As you know Japan is an island nation surrounded by bodies of water. With this abundance of water, the Japanese have learned to enjoy many kinds of seafood that are not typically served in other cultures. One of the seemingly exotic seafood is the octopus, which is my main ingredient for the recipe today.
Outside of Japan, you can find octopus being enjoyed by many other cultures, from Asia, Mediterranean, to South and Central Americans. Japanese don’t eat octopus at home too often, but it’s one of the key ingredients we use for sushi, Takoyaki (fried octopus balls), oden (hot pot), and in a salad called Tako Su (たこ酢).
Quick & Easy Octopus Salad
If you are able to find some sashimi or sushi-grade octopus (タコ刺身) in a Japanese grocery store, making octopus salad at home is surprisingly easy. Even though we call it sashimi/sushi-grade octopus, it actually has been boiled and ready to be enjoyed. To check if the precooked octopus is fresh, the skin should be dark purple and the flesh should be white. The texture is a bit chewy, but when sliced thin, it can be consumed easily by adults.
For Tako Su, we simply combine the thinly sliced octopus with crunchy cucumber, wakame, and toasted sesame seeds before tossing in a light Japanese vinaigrette. The contrast colors and textures of the salad, in my opinion, is a celebration of what nature has provided us. An exemplification of what good food is all about.
I know octopus may not be for everyone, but I hope those of you adventurous eaters will give this salad recipe a try. It’s yummy and low in calorie, making it a delightful side dish to serve especially on a midsummer dinner.
Octopus Salad (Tako Su)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Slice ¼ lb octopus sashimi (boiled octopus) very thinly.
- With ⅓ English cucumber, peel the skin lengthwise in a striped pattern, peeling ½ inch (1.3 cm) wide strips alternately with unpeeled sections. With this method, the cucumber slices have some decorative dark green accents and a little bit of extra crunchiness. Cut the cucumber into small pieces (I use the Japanese cutting technique called rangiri).
- In a small bowl, soak ½ Tbsp dried wakame seaweed in warm water. Let it soak for 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze the liquid out. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette: 3 Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned), 1½ Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp soy sauce, ⅛ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds.
- Add the cucumber, octopus, seaweed, and ½ Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds and toss them all together. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.