Pulpo a la Gallega, also known as Galician-style octopus, is a traditional Spanish dish originating from the region of Galicia. Loved for its simple yet exquisite flavors, this iconic dish has gained international recognition and remains a staple in Spanish cuisine. The combination of tender octopus, rich paprika, and luscious olive oil creates a culinary masterpiece that is a delight to the senses. In this article, we will explore the history of Pulpo a la Gallega and provide you with an authentic recipe to recreate this delightful dish in your own kitchen.
Galicia, located in the northwest corner of Spain, boasts a deep-rooted culinary heritage. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean has greatly influenced the local cuisine, with seafood being a highlight. Octopus, or "pulpo" in Spanish, holds a special place in Galician gastronomy and has been enjoyed by locals for centuries.
Pulpo a la Gallega has humble origins, originating from the coastal towns where fishermen would catch octopus and cook it on their boats. Over time, the dish made its way inland, becoming a cherished specialty throughout the region and beyond. Today, Pulpo a la Gallega is a celebrated part of Spanish culture, often served at festivals, family gatherings, and in local taverns known as "pulperías."
Pulpo a la Gallega is best enjoyed as a tapa or starter, allowing its exquisite flavors to be savored. The tender octopus, combined with the smoky sweetness of the paprika and the richness of the olive oil, creates a delightful harmony of tastes. The dish pairs wonderfully with a glass of Albariño, a crisp and refreshing white wine from Galicia. Buen provecho!
Pulpo a la Gallega Recipe (Galician-style Octopus)
2 pounds (900g) octopus, fresh or frozen
2 pounds (1 kg) potatoes (preferably waxy variety)
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika, depending on your preference
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse sea salt, for garnish
Fresh parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
If using frozen octopus, thaw it completely in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse the octopus under cold water to remove any residual ice or debris.
Fill a large pot with water and add the onion, bay leaves, and sea salt. Bring the water to a boil.
Gently lower the octopus into the boiling water, making sure it is fully submerged. Cook the octopus for about 40-50 minutes until it becomes tender. You can check for doneness by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the tentacle; it should slide in easily.
While the octopus is cooking, peel the potatoes and cut them into thin slices, about 1/4-inch thick. Rinse the slices under cold water to remove excess starch.
In a separate pot, add the potato slices and cover them with cold water. Add a pinch of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender but not falling apart, usually around 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.
Once cooked, remove the octopus from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes.
Prepare a clean cutting board. Take the octopus and cut it into bite-sized pieces, ensuring to keep the tentacles intact.
To serve, arrange the cooked potato slices on a serving platter. Place the octopus pieces on top of the potatoes. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle the dish with coarse sea salt and sweet or smoked paprika to taste.
Optionally, garnish with fresh parsley for added freshness and color.
Serve while still warm, accompanied by lemon wedges on the side. Squeezing some lemon juice over the dish just before eating adds a lovely refreshing tang.