Octopus Salad With Pickled Lemons

  • Serves

    serves 8-10

  • Cook

    1 day


By Ash Heeger

Published on May 11, 2017

"We would go octopus fishing when I was a kid," says chef Ash Heeger, who grew up in Transkei, a rural area in eastern South Africa. When making octopus for a crowd, she tosses grilled pieces with greens, loads of fennel fronds, and pickled lemons whose rinds are tender enough to eat and add citrusy punch.

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For the pickled lemons and dressing

  • 23 cup white wine vinegar
  • 12 cup packed brown sugar
  • 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. grapeseed oil
  • 3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 12 tsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey

For the salad

  • 14 cup kosher salt
  • 2 lb. octopus (about 4 large tentacles), cleaned
  • 12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 cups mixed baby salad greens such as spinach and arugula (7 oz.)
  • 1 12 cups fennel fronds, chopped (from 2 bulbs)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, large ones halved
  • 34 cup thinly sliced spring onion
  • 12 tsp. flaky sea salt


Step 1

Make the pickled lemons: In a small saucepan over high heat, add the vinegar, sugar, 2⁄3 cup water, and salt; bring to a boil. Stir in the lemon slices and let rest at room temperature for 1 day.

Step 2

Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon pickling liquid.

Step 3

Begin the salad: In a large pot, stir 10 cups water with the kosher salt. Add the octopus and oil. Cook at a low simmer until tender, about 2 1⁄2 hours; strain.

Step 4

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Add the octopus and cook, turning, until charred but still tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Step 5

Remove and let cool 2 minutes, then slice into rounds. Cut the pickled lemon slices into quarters.

Step 6

In a serving bowl, toss the greens, fennel fronds, tomatoes, onion, lemon pieces, and octopus with the dressing. Season with flaky sea salt and serve.

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