Tapas! Tapas! Pulpo a la Gallega

Mmmmmmmmm….Delicious tentacley octopussy goodness.  (holy crap, that sounded way dirtier than I intended it to. :|


Most places that serve tapas have a few standard items that appear on every menu, regardless of where you are in Spain.  Some of these would include a selection of local and national cheeses, Serrano ham, garlic shrimp (gambas al ajillo) and of course, Galician Octopus, or “Pulpo a la Gallega.”  Pulpo can be served hot or room temp, with potato slices or without, but always includes the finest olive oil, spicy paprika and sea salt.  It really is incredibly simple to make, and is incredibly cool looking on the plate.  Oh, come ON.  You KNOW you want to see your guests faces when you tell them you’re going to serve octopus tentacles.  And, what’s even better, is that once you’ve finally convinced the more faint of heart of your diners to “at least TRY it!”, the look of pleasure that will inevitably overcome their faces when they do partake of these tender morsels, with just a hint of bite from the spice and the sea salt…well that right there is priceless.

My mil makes the best pulpo…perfectly tender every time.  Do you know how she does it?  In the rice cooker.  Yep.  The rice cooker.  Hers it the old school kind…it looks like a crockpot sort of thing, she fills the outer portion with water, pops that octopus in there and steams it.  Perfect every time.  I don’t have a rice cooker (not that I don’t *want* one, mind you…it’s just that my tiny kitchen only allows for a certain number of toys, and this one isn’t really one I find necessary.  Convince me otherwise if you think I’m mistaken….I could be swayed. lol), so I resort to cooking the octopus in a soup pot.  To ensure a tender octopus, be sure to have frozen it first, then thawed, if buying fresh.

So are you ready to join me?  Let’s make that Octopus.


2 pounds (1 kilo) whole octopus
1 onion
2 bay leaves
2 larger potatoes, boiled and sliced diagonally into rounds (about 1/2″ in thickness or less) **optional
spicy paprika to taste
sea salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil


Fill a large soup pot with water, enough to submerge the octopus.
Cut onion in half and add to water, along with the bay leaves.
Some will say that also adding a wine cork (yes a wine cork) will ensure a tender octopus.
You are within your rights to use your culinary judgement on that particular point. lmfao
Bring the water to a rolling boil, and submerge the octopus.
Bring it back to a boil, and remove the octopus.
Repeat this step 2-3 more times. You basically want to scald the octopus.
Bring the water back to a boil and place the octopus in the water.
This time we will leave it in there.
Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the octopus 20 minutes– a larger octopus will require longer cooking time– up to 45 minutes.
Remove from water, and thinly slice into diagonal slices (the result should be an oval slice).
If using, arrange potato rounds on a plate or wooden serving tablet and top each with a slice of octopus.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then liberally sprinkle with spicy paprika and sea salt.


1 kilo pulpo
1 cebolla
2 hojas de laurel
2 papas cocidas, cortadas en rodajas **opcional
pimentón picante al gusto
sal gorda al gusto
aceite de oliva extra virgen


Llenar un caldero con agua suficiente como para submerjir el pulpo.
Partir la cebolla por la mitad, y añadirla al agua, junta a las hojas de laurel.
Hay gente que diga que añadiendo un corcho de una botella de vino asegura un pulpo tierno.
Estás en tus derechos culinarios usarlo o no a la hora de decidir añadirlo. jajaja
Llevar el agua a ebullición y submerjir el pulpo.
Llevarlo a hervir otra vez y sacar el pulpo.
Repetir 2-3 veces mas. Basicamente, quieres escaldar el pulpo.
Llevar el agua una vez mas a hervir y submerjir el pulpo.
Ya esta vez lo dejamos en el agua.
Reducir el fuego a minimo, y cocinar el pulpo duranto unos 20 minutos–un pulpo mas grande requiere mas tiempo…hasta 45 minutos.
Retirar el pulpo del agua y cortar en rodajas ovaladas finitas.
Si utilizas las papas, colocarlas en el plato de servir, y tapar cada una con una rodaja de pulpo.
Rociar todo con el aceite de oliva virgen y espolvorear con el pimentón picante y sal gorda.

35 Responses to “Tapas! Tapas! Pulpo a la Gallega”

  1. yeah baby! bring those gorgeous octopussy! come to mama! (lollll)

  2. Ay… me gusta mucho!!!

    gotta run to buy some octopus;)

  3. I’m cracking up at the idea of my guests’ faces when I serve up octopus here in land-locked Indiana. Hee!
    There are just some things you don’t eat here. You have to have a coast for that sort of thing, unless you want to risk eating octopus that has frozen since the Carter administration. lmbo

  4. OMG the suckers! Ack! I love love this blog, I’d even try the octopus… if you come over to my house and make it for me.

  5. wow. seriously, my marriage proposal still stands

  6. This looks delicious and the rice cooker thing is very clever, I would hve never thought of that..Beautiful!

  7. LOL! Is this food porn? :-)

  8. Memories of Portugal. Yum.

  9. Nice! My aunt used to make an incredible pulpo en su tinta con arroz. I really don’t know how she made it but it was just amazing! I’ve made pulpo just once in my life and it wasn’t very good. I will try your recipe next time I want to impress my guests ;)

  10. umm…. I might try octopus again after this….

  11. Wow, are you brave! I don’t know if I could deal with tentacles of any sort!!!

  12. We use to catch these suckers under the rocks when I was a kid, Our friend Peter swears by the cork theory. An old Greek lady once told me on the beach that you have to hit the octopus against a rock for 100 times and then you are guaranteed tender flesh, ya right..mush that it! This is making my mouth water so badly!!!!

  13. Oooh, lovely octopus. I love the spicing of it.

  14. i would really have to gird my loins (and/or drink quite a bit of liquor) before becoming brave enough to eat some octopi. i’m a coward like that. :)

  15. Rita! LMFAO!

    Gracias Zita!

    Shaye, I wouldn’t recommend freezing the octopus *that* long. hahaha

    Katie, hee! I love the shock factor they have, too. And heck yeah, I’d make it for you!

    Furious, hee! Already married, but thanks anyway. ;)

    Thank you, Cathy!

    Dawn, HELL yeah! :D

    Barbara, yum is right! Portugal…I’ve wanted to visit there for a long time. :)

    Ben, pulpo en su tinta? Must be awesome. I make calamares en su tinta con arroz…To. Die. For. Lurve me some good ink in my food. :)

    Jerry, do try it! Soooo yummy.

    RG, the tentacles are the BEST PART! :D

    Nina, jeez that sounds like you’d really have to beat the shit out of that octopus! 100 times? Would there be any left? LOL

    Thanks so much, Eating Club!

    Aw, Grace…I could cure your cowardly octopi ways. Let me mix up a pitcher of sangria. BRB ;)

  16. Nikki, I love you like a sister, but I don’t even know how you can pick up an octopus! They’re all tentacley and eeeeeewwwww. lmbo! But at least you make it look damn good!

  17. Looks delicious! This was one of my favorite things when I came to visit you way back when! I know Brian would like this too!

  18. Nikki this is absolutely yummy!!!! apetitoso amiga!!!!!xxxGloria

  19. Time to get over my octopus fear!!! I love eating octopus, but have never cooked with it. sheesh I sound like an octopussy!

  20. Oh wow. I had some octopus at a tapas place in Chicago called Cafe Iberico and it sure didn’t look like that! It was good though, and this looks better!

  21. Looks incredible Nikki. I would love to try cooking octopus and this seems like the easy way to do it!

  22. I’ll make this someday, now to convince my father to not be such a “octopussy” about it haha.

  23. You rock!! Nunca hice pulpo,lo haces muy simples. Puede ser que me anime, cuando tenga una arrocera electrica. :)

  24. Hah! I am GAME for octopus! In fact, I get kind of sad thinking about it because for a coastal country, the octopus I see is usually already pre-cooked (strike one) and frozen (strike two) at the grocery, AND it’s already chopped up into tiny pieces (strike three)! And it’s expensive (strike four)!

    I must get myself to a real fishmonger! That platter looks too good not to do myself! ;)

  25. As much as I would love to make this, I’ not sure I could convince my husband to eat something that looks like it has parts of aorta on it… I enjoy octopus though so I only get to eat it my mom’s house.

  26. I could really go to town on this Nikki. To show my appreciation I have passed something along to you…check it out if you wish.

  27. Nikki!! Què es de tu vida, hice unas empanaditas si quieres verlas amiga!!! besos Gloria

  28. you have posted about one of my all-time favorite tapas. oh my. i can taste it in all its “octopussy” glory.

    we had some baby octopus today grilled over oak wood fire and it was unbelievable w/ just a squeeze of lemon.

  29. girl you really make me want to go back to spain!! it’s been 2 years since I walked the streets! and ironically, just last night i was looking at pictures from that trip.. oh how i love your country! can I claim some of it since we were colonized by you!?!? :)

    i don’t do the octo, but this looks appetizing and so light! y tapas! how could you go wrong with ANY dish selection…

    ive been away for about a month, but I’m back–glad to visit you on my first day back!

  30. [...] made Pulpo a la Gallega and her technique for boiling the octopus is rather different from ours. Check her out and feel free to tell us which you think worked [...]

  31. Ahhh, no wonder I missed this dish, I was away in Greece eating my own octopus!

    Good to see someone else employing the cork trick…I think it DOES make the octopus more tender.

  32. This is amazing. Thank you. I was about to ring my grandma to get her recipe and I just found it here.

    Happy New Year! xo

  33. Wow, this looks really good. My kids don’t really care for octopus, so I guess it’s just for me and my husband :) . I can’t wait to make this. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  34. [...] the la Gallega as well as her technique for hot the octopus is rsther than opposite from ours. Check her out as well as feel giveaway to discuss it us that we consider worked [...]

  35. We stopped by a place on the way back from Finisterre to St. James–they weren’t open yet for lunch and the town was having some sort of festival anyway, but when we asked them what they had on the meny, they let us sample what they identified as a pulpo stew in milk or cream–it was out of this world, and tender like you wouldn’t believe–not served out with olive oil but in the chowder-like broth. It was a hot da, we thanked them for their generosity but we opted not to stay because the food was so rich and we had far to drive. What fools we were! We have thought of that splendid dish many, many times since, and wondered after all: “So what if we had to stay in the town overnight . . . ? It would have been worth it!”
    So, what was that recipe? Best octopus bar none!
    Speaking of seafood and the Galician coast, there’s a place in Finisterre called “Don Percebe”–they must serve everything that rests in shells or creeps in the sea and you can have it all, one delicia after another. Highly recommended–with a ton of frites!

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