1 large octopus (more than 1kg). If the octopus is fresh it is best to freeze it for a couple of days to help soften it.
Spanish smoked paprika (Hot, sweet, or both)
1 Bay leaf
Extra virgin olive oil
Thoroughly clean the fresh octopus. Open the head and remove the entrails (this will smell a little!)
In a large casserole pot add water to boil with some salt and the bay leaf.
Once the water is boiling, prick the octopus with a fork and plunge it whole into the water. Remove from the water immediately. This action ‘scalds’ the meat which makes it shrink and helps it become soft. Repeat this action of plunging the octopus into the boiling water twice more, the final time leaving it in the water.
Depending on the size of the octopus, leave it to boil for about 30 minutes.
After this time, turn off the heat and leave everything in the pot for 5-10 minutes (this will help keep the meat nice and white and prevent it peeling).
For presentation, potatoes can be added. Use 3 to 4 medium to large potatoes peeled but not cut. The potatoes can be boiled in the water with the octopus but this will turn them an unusual colour.
When the potatoes are boiled, cut them into thick slices and lay them out covering the surface of a plate. The tradition in Spain is to use a wooden dish.
Chop the octopus into 10mm thick slices using scissors and arrange on top of the layer of potatoes displaying the best cuts at the top. Generously add salt, olive oil, and the paprika to taste. Serve hot.
Pulpo a la Gallega
This is a very typical Spanish dish from Galicia in the North West of Spain. This can be served as a tapas or a main meal. Pulpo is very popular at the markets or ferias in the region and it is very typical to see the "pulpeiras" with a huge copper pot, where the octopus is boiled. The majority of people go to the ferias just to try this dish.
Most of the work is cleaning and preparing the fresh octopus. Frozen octopus is readily available in speciality food stores and using this eliminates the need for the preparation described below. The frozen octopus comes cleaned and chopped, all is required is to defrost and cook.
We will include in this recipe the process of preparing the fresh octopus.