Spanish Recipes

Pulpo a Feira

Galician Octopus

Though it originated in Galicia or the neighboring region of Leon, pulpo a feira, as it is known in Galician, or pulpo a la gallega, as it is called in Spanish, is now popular throughout Spain. It is usually served on wooden plates with cachelos, potatoes that have been boiled or roasted in embers with their skins on. Frozen octopus works particularly well, since the freezing tenderizes the otherwise quite tough meat, so that is what I suggest you use here. If you prefer to use a fresh octopus, you will need to practice the almost tribal tradition of beating the animal with a rock or meat mallet to rid of its rubbery texture. Another option is to freeze fresh octopus for about two weeks to tenderize it.

The size of the most commonly available octopus is about three pounds; smaller ones, while more tender, are not suited to this preparation, since the tentacles would be too small when cut into rings.

  • Serves 6
  • Difficulty: intermediate


  • 4 quarts water
  • 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 frozen octopus, about 3 pounds thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1 pound new potatoes, boiled with their skins on and kept warm
  • 1 cup extra virgin oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot paprika


In a large stockpot, combine the water and 5 tablespoons of the salt and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, rinse the octopus under running cold water. Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut out the mouth and the eyes.

With a long fork, pierce the octopus to get a good grip and dip it into the boiling water. Lift out immediately and, when the water returns to a boil, dip it briefly again. Repeat this dipping procedure 3 or 4 times, or until the tentacles have curled. (Dipping the octopus into boiling water helps to tenderize it.) Submerge the octopus in the water and let it boil over medium heat for about 2 hours, or until it is tender when pierced with a knife.

Turn off the heat and let the octopus rest in the hot water for 10 minutes. Lift the octopus from the water and cut it into pieces with the scissors: the tentacles into 1/2-inch-thick rings and the body into small chunks. Divide the octopus pieces evenly among 6 plates.

Cut the potatoes crosswise in 1/2-inch-thick slices and surround the octopus pieces with the potato slices. Drizzle the octopus and potatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with hot paprika and the remaining tablespoon of salt. Serve the dish while the octopus and potatoes are still warm.