To me, the sauce of this dish is the star attraction. Zhoug is a spicy chili sauce originated from the Yemen. It includes red or green chilis, a lot of fresh cilantro, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. The Zhoug itself is great as a salad dressing, spread, or in this case, a marinade. I recommend using fresh octopus for this recipe and avoid frozen, as the outcome just won’t be the same. You can get fresh baby octopus from the fish market, or any Asian farmer’s market. Alternaticely, you can also use fresh squids, cut into large pieces. I hope you will try this dish, because I am absolutely in love with it.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
3 chiles, red or green (if you don’t like the heat, remove the seeds to make it milder)
1/2 tbsp salt (plus more to taste)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
18oz baby octopus, cleaned
1. To make the sauce, toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant (about 1 minutes)
2. Combined toasted seeds, chopped onion, garlic, sugar, cilantro, chiles, salt in a food processor or blender and blend well. Gradually add 1 cup of olive oil as you blend. Stop once you have a thick, relish-like sauce.
3. Combine the blended marinade with the octopus in a mixing bowl. Mix well and marinade from 2 hours to overnight.
4. Once ready, grill the octopus in a grilling pan. Turn regularly and continue to brush more of the marinade on top. Octopus should cook in 6-8 minutes.
5. When there is no octopus left to grill, pour the marinade into the pan and cook until it slightly boils. Serve as dipping sauce for octopus. Squeeze lemon juice over octopus for extra freshness.