≡ Menu
Octopus: Great Chinese Street Food post image

Octopus: Great Chinese Street Food

When all else fails in my culinary exploits in China, I go for octopus. Throughout the east of the country small octopuses are grilled up in the streets, showered with spices, and served to pedestrians skewered on sticks for a virtual pittance. For 10 RMB (US $1.60) I can get 15 miniature octopuses on five [...]

When all else fails in my culinary exploits in China, I go for octopus. Throughout the east of the country small octopuses are grilled up in the streets, showered with spices, and served to pedestrians skewered on sticks for a virtual pittance. For 10 RMB (US $1.60) I can get 15 miniature octopuses on five skewers. Not a bad price to pay for such a delicious, albeit leggy snack.

Eating tentacles is fun. That’s all I have to say on the matter of eating octopus. The soft, chewy texture provides a spurt of flavor once the crispy, grilled exterior is bitten through to the squishy insides. Add in the feel of hundreds of little suction cups and eating octopus becomes an oral escapade.

As far as flavor goes, I’m not sure if octopus really has any. I’ve eaten octopus without any flavorings on numerous occasions and I know that my admittedly insensitive palate didn’t taste a damn thing. But grill octopus up in oil and onions, and dump sesame seeds, chili power, and other spices on it and its naturally bland flavor becomes overtly vibrant. Like tofu, octopus seems to absorb whatever seasonings you cook it with.

octopus street food standIn China, octopus is not some specialty food that only a fringe element of society eats. No, it’s a staple street food in the eastern stretches of the country. Wherever you go in this region you’ll find vendors standing behind little carts grilling up octopus. Sometimes they only serve the legs, sometimes they gorge out the brain and cook up the entire thing. Either way, when I’m walking through the streets of China I can often be found with a bundle of skewers in my hand munching on octopus.
cooking octopuseating octopus

Subscribe to Vagabond Journey’s Food Articles

Filed under: China, Food

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3548 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Astoria, New York

2 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell September 3, 2012, 2:20 am

    Me, too. Love it … But here in downtown Hangzhou, one pays 5 RMB per stick. Such are the higher prices of the biggest cities.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 3, 2012, 4:58 am

      Wow, that’s a bit more. Maybe you get more on each stick? Up here there isn’t much octopus per stick.

      Link Reply