Grilled Octopus with Ouzo and Thyme and Aubergine Meze

For an unusual seafood starter try Simon Rimmer's Mediterranean-flavoured recipe for ouzo-marinated octopus and an aubergine salad
By Simon Rimmer
Grilled Octopus with Ouzo and Thyme and Aubergine Meze
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 24 hrs marinating
  • Effort: medium



  • 700 g octopus, cleaned
  • 400 ml ouzo, plus extra for drizzling
  • 800 ml water
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 25 g butter, cold

To garnish:

  • lemon wedges
  • thyme, leaves only

For the Aubergine meze:

  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 1 aubergine
  • black pepper
  • 4 black olives
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • juice of 1 lemons


1. Place the octopus in a saucepan. Add 350ml of the ouzo and enough water to just cover the octopus.

2. Add the garlic, onion, cloves and thyme. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes until the octopus is tender.

3. Remove the octopus (reserving the cooking liquid) and cool. Slice the body, while keeping the tentacles whole.

4. Place the sliced octopus in a bowl. Add the remaining ouzo and the lemon zest and juice. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.

5. Meanwhile, bring the octopus cooking liquid to the boil. Cook briskly until reduced to 100ml. Cool and chill for 24 hours.

6. Cook the aubergine meze. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the aubergine and fry until tender and golden brown on all sides. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

7. Once cooked, toss in the olives, cherry tomatoes and lemon juice.

8. Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Brush the marinated octopus with olive oil (reserving the marinade) and season with freshly ground pepper.

9. Grill the octopus for 4 minutes on each side. Place on a serving plate and sprinkle over a little ouzo.

10. Meanwhile, place the reduced cooking liquid in a small saucepan. Add a little of the reserved marinade. Bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute, reduce the heat and mix in the cold butter until it melts.

11. Pour the sauce over the freshly grilled octopus and garnish with lemon wedges and thyme leaves. Serve the octopus with the aubergine meze.

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