Pulpo A La Gallega / Galician Style Boiled Octopus (Spain)

February 3, 2021

Galician Style Boiled Octopus or Pulpo a la Gallega (Polbo á Feira in Galician dialect).

My adventure with eating octopus started with this dish. So many years have passed already since I spent a year in La Coruña, Galicia, where I went in order to study Spanish. I gained a delicate regional accent and developed a soft spot and great appreciation for sea food. I couldn’t think of a better place to do so. In fact, Pulpo a la Gallega has always been my favourite (as well as the Dégustateur’s) way of preparing octopus.

The beauty of this dish lies in it’s simplicity. Slowly boiled octopus is served, best still warm, seasoned just with flaky sea salt (Maldon salt), smoked paprika pimientón and generously drizzled with olive oil. Very often it is neatly arranged on thickly sliced boiled potatoes and presented on a round wooden plate or a small board.

For 4 portions:

  • 1 octopus 1-1.3 kg in weight*
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • smoked paprika for seasoning
  • flaky sea salt (Maldon)
  • olive oil

Most often the octopus* that is available has been frozen already (best still to check), which in this case has a positive effect of tenderising it. If you buy a frozen octopus, de-freeze it first and wait until it has gained almost room temperature before cooking. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Add the onion to the pot (don’t cut it up) and immerse your octopus into the water and then take it out almost immediately.

Repeat this process three times and it’s best to use kitchen pliers. By doing so the tentacles will curl beautifully and start to look very appetising already.

Next leave the octopus in the pot to boil gently on a low heat. You can put a lid on if you wish.

Cook for about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size. It’s best to check by pressing a small sharp knife into the flesh at the thickest part of the octopus. If you don’t feel any resistance, your octopus is ready and tender. Cooking it for too long will turn it hard and fairly rubbery.

Drain your octopus in a colander and wait for it to cool a little before handling.

Cut the tentacles into smaller pieces or rings, place them onto a serving plate, season with salt and smoked paprika to your liking and finally drizzle everything generously with olive oil.