Pulpo a la Gallega is an octopus dish which originates from the Galicia region of Spain. This dish is very simple. The octopus is boiled and once cooked, it is sliced then drizzled with oil and paprika. It is often served over sliced potatoes, and with a glass of wine.
The general consensus is that this dish is particularly enjoyable due to the texture of the octopus. Often, octopus can be prepared in such a way that leaves it tough and chewy but pulpo a la Gallega is said to cook octopus for just the right amount of time so that its texture becomes soft and buttery.
Traditionally, the octopus was tenderized before cooking by pounding it against a hard surface. Using frozen octopus or freezing fresh octopus is said to be an effective way to tenderize octopus.
Pulpo a la Gallega is also known as Polbo a Feira or fair style octopus. This variation is cooked in copper pots. The copper pot is said to give the octopus a unique flavor that other types of pot materials do not. When copper pots aren’t available, a copper coin is tossed into the boiling water. Another variation is Pulpo a la Plancha, where the octopus is grilled, not boiled.
Origin & Cultural Significance
The region of Galicia is located in the northwest of Spain, along the Atlantic coast. Its cuisine is unique from the rest of Spain and focuses primarily on seafood. Octopus in particular, is considered festive food.
Throughout the year many fiestas del pulpo or octopus festivals take place in Galicia but the largest is the Octopus Festival of O Carballiño which started in 1962. Copper pots are set up where pulpo a la gallega is cooked and served to thousands of attendees.
Spanish Pulpo a la Gallega
- Octopus, frozen and defrosted - 3 lbs
- Salt - 1 tbsp
- Olive oil - 2-3 tbsp
- Spanish paprika - to taste
- Salt - to taste
- Baby potatoes, peeled, boiled, and sliced - 1 lb (optional)
- Fill a large stock pot halfway with water and bring to a boil then add the salt.
- Once boiling, rapidly dip the defrosted octopus three times into the boiling water.
- Place the octopus into the water, making sure it's fully submerged and cook on a low boil for 6 minutes per pound. For 3 pounds, that's 18 minutes. Adjust to the size of your octopus.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let the octopus rest in the water for up to 20 minutes. When a knife or fork inserts without resistance at the thickest spot, it is done.
Remove it from the water.
- Once cooled, slice the tentacles and serve with high-quality olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika and salt. If desired, serve over sliced potatoes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 218mgSodium: 2311mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 70g