I love the charred flavours of barbecued octopus, with this smooth tahini sauce on top. The tahini sauce is also beautiful with barbecued squid or cuttlefish, or a fillet of barbecued fish.






Skill level

Average: 3 (21 votes)


  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) octopus, preferably local, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon


Tahini sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 slices stale bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
  • 30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) roughly
  • chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp tahini (see Note)
  • 3 tbsp  finely chopped
  • flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 tbsp pul biber
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) lemon juice, or to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 2 hours

Combine the octopus, olive oil and lemon juice in a non-metallic bowl. Season with sea salt. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator to marinate for a few hours.

To make the tahini sauce, put the garlic cloves in a mortar with the bread and a pinch of sea salt. Add the walnuts and use a pestle to pound everything into a coarse paste. Scrape the paste into a mixing bowl. Now add the tahini, parsley, pul biber and lemon juice, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix together well. Add a little water to the sauce to adjust the consistency if you think it should be a little runnier. Set aside.

Fire up your barbecue and bring it to a high heat. Cook the marinated octopus on the barbecue grill bars for 1–2 minutes, or until tender and just cooked through.

Serve hot, with your beautiful tahini sauce.



• Popular throughout the Middle East, and widely available from health food stores, tahini is a paste made from toasted sesame seeds. Turkish tahini is often thinner than tahini from other countries. The oil from the sesame seeds tends to separate from the paste and settle on top, so simply stir the oil back into the tahini before using. 

• Pul biber is a crushed red powder made from dried aleppo peppers. It is mild to medium in heat, and the Turkish love sprinkling it over just about anything. If you can’t find it in spice shops or Middle Eastern grocery stores, you can use chilli flakes instead.


Recipe and image from Turkish Fire by Sevtap Yüce (Hardie Grant and SBS, $55, hbk).View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here