Ingredient Name: Dried Octopus
Traditional Chinese Name: 章魚幹 (Zhāng yú gàn)
What is this?
- This is basically the dried preserved carcass of a small octopus (an eight-legged mollusc that lives in the ocean)
- It is prepared by sun drying them with salt
- It is salty and slightly “fishy” in taste with a rubbery and hard texture
- Commonly used in soups, stews and other Chinese dishes (usually sliced very thinly)
How do I prepare it?
- Rinse in warm water before usage and soak in warm water for about an hour to soften it
- For soups, you can cut them into thin slices (for consumption) or simply half it
Where can I buy this?
- Readily available at most Asian supermarkets (packaged)
- Definitely available in Hong Kong wet marts (sold in the dried food vendor stalls)
What is the cost?
- Very affordable
- One average-sized octopus (as picture above) cost me around $30 HKD
- The prices do vary depending on size, breed and availability
- This is a perfect ingredient for soups as it is makes the soup extremely tasty (without adding salt)
- Octopus is rich in calcium, phosphorous, and iron
- It aids in the prevention of anemia, relieves fatigue and restores eyesight and improves liver functions
- Be sure to purchase from a reputable source
- Sometimes the octopus is really salty, so if you want to reduce the saltiness, soak in warm water for a few hours
- Dried octopus is high in cholestorel
- People who are allergic to shellfish may be allergic to octopus
- Store in a dry and cool place (up to 3 months)
- You can freeze them as well for longer storage (up to 6 months)
- This is a similar ingredient to the dried cuttlefish, both are prepared and used in a similar fashion
Dear Chinese Soup Lady, I wonder if I could make some soup using dried octopus but not using lotus root? So far all the recipes I found call for the lotus root whenever one of the the ingredients is dried octopus. Are those two always in pair? I want to buy and send some dried octopus to my parents and they cannot buy lotus root. My mum has iron defficiency so I thought octopus would be great for her. What should I do?
No, I think that’s just a coincidence that I haven’t used dried octopus elsewhere. You can also use it with arrowroot, taro, all sorts of nuts, chicken. It’s similar to the dried conpoy in that it’s quite versatile. I hope this helps and if you do make soups with dried octopus, please feel free to send them my way and I can do a guest post!
Thanks for your support! Lisa