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Chopped Champion Recipe: Baby Octopus with Lime Pickle, Scallions and Swiss Chard

On August 2nd, I competed on Food Network's show "Chopped!" And I won! For the first round, the mystery basket contained Baby Octopus, a wildly pungent Indian condiment called Lime Pickle, Tokyo Scallion and Swiss Chard. 

I had never cooked with Baby Octopus before Chopped. And if you, like me, are not a big Octopus fan, you could easily substitute this with another seafood--scallops or clams would be particularly yummy. If you're not into lime pickle either, you could swap it out for a whole lot of lemon and/or lime juice and zest, and maybe even some cornichons to give it a little more bite.

The judges had issues with the fact that the dish didn't have enough texture. Ted Allen suggested to me that this would be great on a crostini--a great solution. You can serve the bread on the side, or just mix everything together and put in on top.

Warning: I have not made this recipe since I created it on Chopped! So it is an untested recipe. Let me know if I missed something or if this is totally awful!


Serves 4

1/2 lb cleaned Baby octopus, chopped into small-ish pieces

1/4 cup chopped lime pickle (include the sauce and whole bits of the pickle)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs. minced red onion

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1 small bunch swiss chard, cleaned, ribs removed, and roughly chopped

3 baby red skinned potatoes, cut into small dice

1/2 cup chicken stock 

White wine vinegar, to taste

Salt and Pepper

1 tbs. butter

1 baguette, cut into thick slices and fried in butter and olive oil

Boil the potatoes until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Combine the octopus with the lime pickle, about 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the red onion. Season with salt and pepper and set aside for at least 10 minutes (up to 30 min) to marinate.

Meanwhile, heat a small pan up with 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs. of the remaining olive oil. Toss in the cooked, diced potatoes and cook for about 5-10 minutes until browned and crispy. Remove potatoes and set aside. Return pan to heat and add 2 tbs. olive oil. Add the sliced scallion, saute for about 1 minute and then add the swiss chard. Saute for about 1 minute, then add chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drizzle with white wine vinegar to taste and set aside.

Place a large saute pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the octopus mixture and saute, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Taste the octopus to see if it is done--it should be tender, just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook it; it can quickly become tough and rubbery. When the octopus is done, add the potatoes and mix to combine.

Place the swiss chard on a plate (or crostini) and top with the octopus mixture. Sprinkle with some fresh herbs, if you've got them, and some crunchy sea salt.