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Pulpo a la Gallega, a Classic Spanish Octopus Recipe

Pulpo a la Gallega, a Classic Spanish Octopus Recipe

While eating octopus might seem strange to some, it’s a delicacy in Spanish cuisine. There are several ways to eat this seafood delight, but one of the most popular ways in Spain is pulpo a la gallega. Try our this Spanish octopus recipe and bring a little taste of Spain to your kitchen!

About pulpo a la gallega

This Spanish octopus recipe is so irresistible!

Photo by jjramos on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

Some of the best seafood in Spain comes from Galicia in the northwestern corner of the country. The most popular way to prepare octopus, a delicacy there, is Galician-style. Pulpo a la gallega originates from this region as the gallegos, people from Galicia, have perfected the art of cooking octopus. This Spanish octopus recipe is delicious and simple. Thinly-sliced octopus rests on a bed of soft, boiled potatoes, generously sprinkled with sea salt and paprika. It’s a great tapa to share since you can pick up bits with a toothpick and pop it right in your mouth.

This dish doesn’t require many ingredients and isn’t very difficult to prepare, either. Pulpo a la gallega is a great appetizer that you can serve at your next dinner party, or at home to impress your favorite seafood lover. Pair it with some homemade sangría and you’ll really bring home a taste of Spain!

See more: 7 Delicious Seafood Tapas Recipes


Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this delicious Spanish octopus recipe:

  • 1 octopus, about 1-2 kgs
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • course sea salt or sea salt flakes
  • paprika (better if it’s spicy Spanish pimentón)
  • extra-virgin olive oil


You need to try this delicious Spanish octopus recipe!

Photo by yosoynuts on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

Fresh octopus is quite tough, so you have to tenderize it to get it to the perfect texture. So, there two ways that you can do this:

  • Beat the octopus with a stone or rolling pin until it softens a bit.
  • Freeze the octopus two days ahead of time. Take it out of the freezer and let it completely defrost in the fridge. The freezing will soften it up.

Whichever method you choose, make sure that the octopus softens enough before you start cooking.

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and throw in a pinch of salt and the bay leaf. This is the water that you will boil the octopus in. You can also boil the potatoes here, but they might take on some of the coloring of the octopus. If this bothers you, bring another small pot of water to a boil for the potatoes to cook in.
  2. Once the water is boiling, you need to “scare” the octopus. To do this, grab it by its head and dip it in the water for a few seconds, and then remove it completely. Do this a total of 3 times. This helps the octopus stiffen so that the skin stays in tact during cooking while keeping the meat tender.
  3. After the third dip in the boiling water, drop the octopus in and leave it. Let the octopus boil for about 40 minutes, or until it is tender. This may vary on the size of the octopus. You can test it by piercing the tentacle near the head with a knife or a skewer.
  4. Next, remove the octopus and let it cool thoroughly before you start cutting it. You can let it rest for an hour, or put it in a bowl of cool water for 15 minutes and then drain.
  5. If you haven’t already cooked them with the octopus, peel the potatoes and boil them until done, and allow them to cool.
  6. Once cool, cut the potatoes into thick rounds and lay them in a single layer on a plate. Cut your octopus tentacles into slices, not too thin, not too thick. Lay the octopus on top of the potatoes.
  7. Sprinkle on sea salt, paprika, drizzle on plenty of olive oil, and you’re ready to serve!

Try out this Spanish octopus recipe and let us know how it goes by leaving us a comment! And if you want to taste the best seafood in town, join Food Lover Tour and we’ll eat where the locals eat!