How to Tenderize Octopus on the Island of Mykonos, Greece with Collette

PHOTO: How to Tenderize Octopus on the Island of Mykonos, Greece

On the Greek island of Mykonos, a local man squatted down and began to tenderize octopus he just caught by slammg it repeatedly on the seaside rocks

I’d always heard that you must tenderize octopus before it can be eaten, but I had no idea what that involved until I visited Mykonos, Greece during a tour with Collette. I was enjoying a leisurely lunch at a seaside cafe during one of our free afternoons, when a local man squatted down on the rocks directly in front of me. He raised his right arm high and brought it down forcefully, slamming whatever he held in his hand against the rocks. It took me a moment to realize the “something” he held in his hand was a freshly-caught octopus. Again and again, he bashed the creature onto the boulder. Fascinated, I watched as the rubbery consistency of the octopus gradually melted into a soft, quivering mass.

Curious, I asked the owner of the restaurant if the octopus would be appearing on his dinner menu that evening. “No, that’s a local man who is preparing his own dinner.” He claimed that to tenderize octopus, a cook must beat it against the rocks (or the kitchen sink) at least 100 times. I didn’t count, but I’d be willing to bet the man beat that octopus against the rocks at least 50 times. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to go through for something that’s famous for its rubbery consistency, regardless of how it’s prepared. But I was fascinated and excited to witness a process that’s an authentic part of the cultural heritage of the Greek Islands.

Author’s note: I was a guest of Collette during my “Exploring Greece and Its Islands, featuring Classical Greece, Mykonos & Santorini” tour. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

6 Comments on “PHOTO: How to Tenderize Octopus on the Island of Mykonos, Greece

    • LOL – well, I don’t really have any frame of reference, but I’ll take your word for it. I can say for sure that I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the water with it.

  1. Barbara,
    I love eating octopus, especially the way Hispanics prepare it in south Texas for tacos. I had only eaten it mixed in with other seafood prior to tasting the tacos in McAllen Texas. I am head over hills now for this method. Thanks for sharing this explanation as I has no idea octopus was prepared in this manner. #safetravels

    • Thanks Mike. I’m vegetarian, and no longer even eat seafood, so it wouldn’t be for me. But I was assured this method makes the meat very tender!

  2. Wow, that’s harsh! Reminds me of how clothes are still washed at some placea in India. To apply the same treatment to food…sounds rough.

    • Hi Sandeepa. It does seem harsh, but it’s part of their culture, and I suspect if you checked any restaurant kitchen that prepares octopus dishes, you’d find something similar going on. At least they are dead before they’re “tenderized,” and it was destined to be eaten that evening, so it wasn’t a case of killing for the thrill of it.

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