Spicy stir-fried octopus, called nakji-bokkeum in Korean, is loved by many Koreans. It’s also one of my all-time favorite dishes.

If you love spicy seafood, this is what you’re looking for. The najki (octopus) we use to make it has long thin arms and a small oval head. It’s found in the shores of North East Asia, and also in the frozen section of Korean grocery stores (or fresh if you can find it). Peak season for nakji is winter, and that’s when the nakji restaurants in Korea fill their freezers with octopus, enough to use for the upcoming year.

I did a lot of experiments to come up a good sweet, salty, smoky, and spicy balance for the seasoning in this recipe, but the nakji was always tough. Finally I figured out the special ingredient: a 2 minute vigorous massage. it worked perfectly and the octopus was very tender.

Developing this recipe was important, not only do I get to share this with you, but I also get to use it for the rest of my life. Whenever I want to make delicious nakji-bokkeum, it’s right here waiting for me! I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do!


For seasonings:


How to handle the nakji:

  1. Cut open the heads and remove the intestines and beaks.
  2. Put in a large bowl. Add flour and scrub vigorously for about 2 minutes until it foams. This process not only tenderizes the octopus but also cleans any dirt or mud stuck in the suckers.
  3. Rinse in cold running water until it’s not slippery anymore. Drain.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the octopus for 10 to 12 seconds, drain, and then transfer to a cutting board.
  5. Cut the heads and arms into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Make seasoning sauce:

  1. Combine all the seasoning ingredients (hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, sugar, potato starch, rice syrup and ground black pepper) in a small bowl.
  2. Mix well with a spoon.


  1. Heat up a large pan over high heat. Add vegetable oil.
  2. Stir in garlic, ginger, green chili pepper, onion, and green onion for about 3 minutes until the garlic turns a little brown and the onion translucent.
  3. Add nakji and seasoning sauce. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in sesame oil. Transfer it to a serving plate and serve right away with rice.


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  1. MichaelD Texas joined 8/23 & has 1 comment

    I tried this tonight and it was delicious, thank you!

    My wife prefers squid instead of octopus, which I want to try next. Should I prepare this dish same way with squid, including the blanching?

  2. rassy_md Philippines joined 6/22 & has 1 comment

    We usually cook octopus here in the Philippines adobo style. I don’t eat it even if I was the one cooking, but this one made me eat lol, it tastes really good! Even I don’t have some of the ingredients like the chili flakes and rice syrup, I really love it.

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  3. Elaine W Halifax joined 2/22 & has 3 comments

    This was my first time to make octopus dish. It was so yummy thanks

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  4. neko-noir UK joined 12/21 & has 1 comment

    I’m wanting to make this recipe but I can only get frozen baby octopus, will that work? also I just used up all of my gochugaru in my kimchi (using your recipe turns out amazing every time) would I be able to sub for gochujang instead?

  5. gemplee Singapore joined 4/20 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I finally tried this recipe and it is absolutely delicious.
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us.
    Much love to you.

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  6. Jung Ah Los Angeles, CA joined 6/20 & has 2 comments

    made this tonight with your Potato pancake and they paired well. I did add Zucchini / carrot slices and somen noodles to the octopus recipes and it tasted terrific. Thank you

  7. Kazmara Australia joined 5/18 & has 1 comment

    I made this today and it was delicious! I used honey instead of rice syrup and it worked really well but I overcooked the octopus a little, but it was so tasty!

    Thank you Maangchi for inspiring me to cook Korean food!

  8. geckos Oregon joined 5/18 & has 5 comments

    I wonder what the sauce is that is used with the cucumber?

  9. rrbwestu Houston joined 4/18 & has 2 comments

    I tried your recipe this evening and it turned out great! The massage and blanch resulted in very tender octopus. The flavors were very balanced. I got too excited about cooking najki for the first time and forgot the sesame seed oil. I will be cooking this again. With the sesame seed oil it will be even better. Thanks for such a straightforward and easy recipe.

  10. stonefly Olympia WA joined 11/11 & has 61 comments

    Maangchi: I tried this last week, but could only find precut frozen octopus (about 1-3 inch pieces). I gave it the same treatment in your recipe, but it came out a little tough. But still delicious. Any thoughts?


  11. LiljaS Iceland joined 3/18 & has 16 comments

    I saw this and thought I just HAVE to try this. Never tried octopus before. Unfortunately I could not find nakji here, but I found the large octopus. So I probably made muneo-bokkeum (문어볶음).Since it was so big I just used half for this recipe and made octopus slices with sesame dipping sauce, muneo-sukhoe (문어숙회) with the other half. My teenagers actually fled to their rooms when they saw the raw octopus ;D but I LOVE these dishes. Soooo good. And of course served with rice and kimchi and some vegetables ;) I just love your recipes Maangchi, thank you, thank you, thank you ❤️

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      “My teenagers actually fled to their rooms when they saw the raw octopus” lol!

      This table setting looks perfect and I’m so impressed by your substitution of large octopus, because nakji was not available. You made kimchi, too? That’s a real Korean style meal! You must be good at cooking.

      • LiljaS Iceland joined 3/18 & has 16 comments

        Thank you <3 Your kimchi was the first Korean recipe I tried, never tasted it before but was very curious about it. Last weekend I was abroad and got my first chance to go to a Korean restaurant and taste (I hope) authentic Korean food, and I’m proud to say that I think my kimchi quite measures up to the restaurant one. I actually think mine was a little bit better ;)

  12. stonefly Olympia WA joined 11/11 & has 61 comments


    This looks yummy! I will have to try it this week, because i love spicy Korean!

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