Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician Octopus): A Spanish Delicacy

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Pulpo a la Gallega, or Galician Octopus, is a cherished dish from the region of Galicia in Spain, known for its rich seafood traditions. This simple yet flavorful dish showcases tender octopus, boiled until perfectly cooked, and then seasoned with paprika, olive oil, and coarse sea salt. Pulpo a la Gallega is a celebration of Galician culinary heritage, emphasizing the quality and freshness of seafood. Here’s how to prepare this traditional Spanish delicacy at home, along with tips to ensure it turns out authentically delicious.


For Pulpo a la Gallega:

  • 1 whole octopus (about 2-3 lbs), cleaned and thawed if frozen
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
  • Sweet paprika (preferably Spanish), for sprinkling
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional), for garnish
  • Crusty bread, for serving


1. Prepare the Octopus:

  • Thoroughly rinse the octopus under cold water to remove any impurities.
  • In a large pot, fill with enough water to cover the octopus. Add the onion halves and bay leaves to the water.
  • Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

2. Cook the Octopus:

  • Once the water is boiling, carefully add the octopus to the pot.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 45-60 minutes, or until the octopus is tender. To check for doneness, insert a knife or fork into the thickest part of the octopus; it should slide in easily without resistance.

3. Prepare the Serving Plate:

  • While the octopus is cooking, prepare a serving plate by sprinkling it generously with coarse sea salt and sweet paprika. This will create a flavorful base for the octopus.

4. Slice and Arrange the Octopus:

  • Once the octopus is tender, remove it from the pot and place it on a cutting board.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the octopus into thick slices, about 1/2-inch to 1-inch thick.

5. Serve Pulpo a la Gallega:

  • Arrange the sliced octopus on the prepared serving plate, on top of the bed of salt and paprika.
  • Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sprinkle more paprika on top for additional color and flavor.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

6. Enjoy:

  • Serve Pulpo a la Gallega warm or at room temperature.
  • Accompany with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful olive oil and juices from the octopus.

Tips for Success:

  • Octopus Preparation: Fresh octopus should be cleaned thoroughly before cooking. If using frozen octopus, thaw it completely in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
  • Cooking Time: Octopus can vary in size and thickness, so adjust the cooking time accordingly. It should be tender but not overcooked to avoid toughness.
  • Flavor Enhancement: The combination of coarse sea salt, sweet paprika, and extra virgin olive oil is essential to the authentic taste of Pulpo a la Gallega. Use high-quality ingredients for the best flavor.
  • Presentation: Arrange the sliced octopus neatly on the serving plate to showcase its tender texture and vibrant colors.

Nutritional Benefits:

Pulpo a la Gallega is a low-calorie dish packed with protein from octopus and healthy fats from olive oil. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious choice for seafood enthusiasts.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve Pulpo a la Gallega as a tapa (appetizer) or as part of a Spanish-inspired meal. Pair it with a glass of crisp Spanish white wine or a refreshing Galician-style cider for an authentic dining experience.


Pulpo a la Gallega is a quintessential Spanish dish that celebrates the simplicity and quality of Galician seafood. By following this recipe and tips, you can recreate the authentic flavors of Spain in your own kitchen. Enjoy the tender texture and rich flavors of Pulpo a la Gallega, and savor each bite of this cherished Spanish delicacy!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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