Fiery octopus (Ojingeo bokkeum)

Korean red chilli paste and red chilli powder add an unusual dimension to this spicy octopus dish. Source them online or from an Asian supermarket.

Fiery octopus (Ojingeo bokkeum)

Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins


Prep time
less than 30 minutes
Cooking time
less than 10 minutes


  • 300g frozen baby octopus, defrosted
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, thickly sliced
  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced quite thickly (stalks removed)
  • 2 spring onions, cut in half lengthways
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • 1 small red chilli, thinly sliced at an angle, for serving

For the Spice Paste:

  • 10g fresh root ginger, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Gochujang (Korean red chilli paste)
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1⁄2 tsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp mirin


  1. If you buy frozen octopus it will come ready-cleaned. Simply rinse it in cold water, pat dry with kitchen paper, then set aside. If you buy fresh octopus, ask your fishmonger to clean it for you.

  2. To make the spice paste, put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and set aside.

  3. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the octopus, bring the water back to the boil and blanch for 1–2 minutes, then drain. Allow the octopus to cool slightly, then remove any dark skin – just pull it away from the flesh. Cut the octopus into quarters or if you have very small octopuses, cut them in half and then into bite-sized pieces.

  4. Place a frying pan or wok over the heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the sliced onion for a couple of minutes, then add the pieces of octopus and the spice paste and cook for another 2–3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, then add the spring onions and sesame oil. Stir for about 30 seconds to combine the ingredients.

  5. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the fiery octopus, then garnish with slices of red chilli and serve.