Pulpo a la Gallega or Pulpo a Feira (Galician name meaning fair-style octopus) is a traditional dish from the region of Galicia. It is the main dish during the patron saint festivities of the city of Lugo.
The octopus is an odd creature having 3 hearts, 8 tentacles and a sharp beak. It is also a master escapologist being able to squeeze through the tiniest of gaps.
Only the blue ring octopus is deadly to humans. Fortunately for me they are found on coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans. So the English Channel is safe for now.
However, that said it is also very tasty, try Pulpo a la Gallega for yourself.
If you can get some, use the imported double sucker octopus like the one from Brindisa. When cooked it is much more tender than our UK native octopus which is tough and rubbery.
When supplied frozen, the freezing process tenderises the meat. Around the Mediterranean, freshly caught octopus is often bashed on the rocks before cooking.
Pulpo a la Gallega is my absolute favourite tapas dish. I enjoy squid and cuttlefish grilled “a la plancha” and octopus is not for everybody but for me there is nothing else like it.
Pulpo a la Gallega
- 1 Octopus whole, fresh or frozen, about 2kg
- 500 g Potatoes peeled, Desiree or King Edward
- 1 Medium onion halved
- 2 Bay leaves
- Sea salt
- Pimenton dulce (sweet smoked paprika)
- Olive oil extra virgin
- Remove the octopus from the freezer the day before and allow it to defrost in the fridge.
- Clean the octopus, clearing the head and removing the eyes and beak.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a pinch of salt, the onion and the bay leaves.
- Scare the octopus by dipping it in the boiling water 3 times and pulling it out.This makes the octopus stiffen, so the skin does not fall off during cooking and makes the tips of the tentacles curl.
- Cook the octopus on a medium heat for between 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the octopus.Make sure the octopus is covered with water throughout cooking.
- If required, add the potatoes to the pan, return to the boil and simmer.
- After 20 minutes check if the octopus is cooked by piercing the thicker tentacles with a wooden skewer.Octopus should be al dente,just like pasta. You should feelthe same resistance as a cooked potato.
- Once cooked, allow the octopus to rest in the cooking liquid for 20 minutes, then drain onto a serving platter.
- To serve, cut the octopus and potatoes into ½ inch thick slices. Pulpo a la Gallega is traditionally served on a wooden base with a base of sliced potatoes topped with the sliced octopus, seasoned with sea salt, pimenton and a good drizzle of olive oil.
- After cooking the octopus slices can be placed in a pan of warm olive oil and allowed to infuse for a while until heated through.This is the way to heat shop bought ready cooked octopus.