Pulpo a la Gallega

How to make Pulpo a la Gallega.

Pulpo a la Gallega or Pulpo a Feira (Galician name meaning ‘fair style octopus) is a traditional dish from the region of Galicia. It is the main dish during the patron saint festivities of the city of Lugo. Cooking fresh octopus is not such a daunting process, the key to it, is to get the right timing on the cooking of the octopus, so you don’t end up with the octopus being too tough… or too soft. Fresh octopus needs to be tenderised before cooking by pounding it heavily to avoid the dish becoming rubbery. Traditionally, this is done by hitting the octopus against a wall or stone. At home, you don’t need to do this…freezing the octopus helps the meat tenderise. Traditionally, pulpo is cooked in a copper cauldron, allowing 12 minutes per 1kg of octopus. Pulpo a la gallega tends to be paired well with a young red wine, ideally slightly chilled.

Servings: 4 People


  • 1 whole fresh or frozen octopus, about 2kg in weight
  • 500g of desiree or King Edward potatoes, peeled
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Spanish smoked paprika
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. The day before, remove the octopus from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the fridge.
  2. Before cooking, it is important to clear the head, remove the eyes and mouth and wash the octopus well.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a pinch of salt, when the water begins to boil you need to grab the octopus from the head and ‘scare it’ by dipping it in the water 3 times and pulling it out.
  4. This makes the octopus stiffen, so the skin does not fall during the cooking process and makes the tips of the tentacles curl.
  5. The tentacles are preferred over the head, which sometimes is discarded.
  6. Cook your octopus between 20 and 25 minutes on a medium heat.
  7. Make sure the octopus is covered with water throughout the cooking.
  8. Towards the end of the cooking process, you can check if the octopus is ready by piercing the thicker tentacles with a wooden skewer to check if they are tender enough.
  9. Octopus should be al dente, just like pasta.
  10. You should feel the same resistance as a cooked potato.
  11. Once the cooking time is complete, allow the octopus to rest in the cooking liquid for a few minutes and drain onto a serving platter.
  12. Whilst you cooking the octopus, add the potatoes and cook until soft.
  13. Allow them to cool down slightly.
  14. To serve the dish, cut the octopus tentacles and potatoes into ½ an inch-thick slices.
  15. Pulpo a la gallega is traditionally served in a wooden plate with a base of sliced potatoes, topped with slices of octopus.
  16. Season with sea salt, smoked paprika and a good drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil.
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