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roasted Galician octopus (pulpo Gallego)

One of the emblematic dishes of our philosophy. A few healthy ingredients create a tasteful and visually attractive result

ingredients for 4 servings (cost about 5 € pp)
  • 1 small to medium octopus
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • coarse salt
  • paprika de la Vera (sweet or spicy)
  • EV Olive oil
  • a bay leaf
  • a few peppercorns
  • a few cloves
  • a few lemon drops
  • fresh oregano
  • allioli sauce (optional)

In Greece fishermen have the habit of hitting fresh octopuses to big stones aiming to tenderize them. Some housewives even put them in the washing machine. We don´t have to do anything like that, as our beloved DG shows us the way to obtain a very soft and juicy octopus.

a) First of all, we select small or medium octopuses, having in mind that it is an animal too and as it grows up, moving on the bottom of the sea, it becomes harder and harder. So small to medium octopuses are the best option.

b) If we do not want to eat the octopus immediately, we put it in the freezer for at least 3-4 days and as soon as we take it out, it will be as soft as a Turkish delight. And our clothes will not smell like Popeye’s ones.

c) If we want to consume it immediately, we put it in a bag and we hit it with flattened hammer, not too strongly but as strongly as we assume it is required to break its fibers, which make it hard.

d) Frozen octopus does not require anything, it is always tender, but I don´t suggest its use as it does not have the aromatic value of a fresh one

I never use octopus head in the dishes, which contain tentacles. These animal parts have different colour, different texture and different taste, so we cut the head, we clean it up discarding its interior and we keep it in the freezer for a stock, a risotto, a fideuà or something else.

Another question is how to boil the octopus legs. Many cooks suggest to boil them in very hot water, but what about its skin? When octopus skin comes in touch with boiling water it tends to shrink, something tragic for a pretty dish. So if you are going to peel the skin and tentacles anyway, you might as well start from boiling water, salty of course. Otherwise, it is mandatory to start from cold water.

The Galician octopus is a marvelous and very popular, a notorious, I would say, Spanish dish. Practically, it is a boiled octopus with boiled potatoes. I present you an alternative that offers better texture to the dish, without changing its philosophy, or alternating its aromas.

So, in a pot we put some cold water, the octopus tentacles, the bay leaf, the peppercorns, the cloves and some salt. We bring to boil and then we lower the heat. We cover the pot and we let the octopus simmer for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size and the tenderness. The tentacles must be very tender.

We remove the octopus, we add some lemon drops and the potatoes. Lemon (or vinegar) will help us keep the potatoes well shaped. We simmer them till tender. Meanwhile, we preheat the oven to the maximum temperature.

When the potatoes are ready we put them in the oven to create some Maillard reactions. After a few minutes we add the octopus legs. But BEWARE. We don´t want the potatoes or the octopus to be crunchy, they must remain tender. What we want, is to reduce the excess amount of water and give a better texture to the dish.

When ready, we put in dishes decorating with a few olive oil drops, paprika de la Vera (I use the spicy one), coarse salt and fresh oregano.

An allioli sauce will turn our dish from well made to monumental.


Published in SEAFOOD