Galician Octopus – Simple recipe

Today we have one of the classic tapas par excellence of Spanish gastronomy. Galician octopus is a regular on bar terraces in summer and it doesn’t surprise me at all, because something so rich and easy to prepare, inevitably won’t be popular. In my house, we do it a lot and on certain dates like Christmas, it is a fixture on the table. We really like it.

A common debate when talking about the Galician octopus is whether it is the same as the octopus a feira or not. The answer is no because although they are similar dishes, there are small differences. The main one is that the Galician octopus has potatoes and the octopus does not. On the other hand, there is the issue of cooking. Galician octopus is prepared after the entrails have been separated from it and then cooked for several hours over low heat. For the octopus a feira, normal cooking is enough. It is true that in this recipe I do not cook it in the traditional Galician way, but by bringing potatoes, we can speak of Galician octopus.

You may also like these delicious Lentils with Chorizo and Black Pudding


  • 1 beautiful octopus, about 2.5 kg
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Paprika to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Ingredients photo


1) Bring water to boil in a saucepan

We start by putting a large saucepan on the fire with plenty of water. We wait for it to boil and put the potatoes, the whole and peeled onion, and the laurel leaves. You may replace laurel leaves with bay leaves if that’s easily available in your area. 

Step 1 Galician Octopus, how to prepare it easy

2) Scare the octopus

Next, we put the octopus in the casserole with the help of some tongs. When putting it in the casserole, we are not going to release it, because you have to scare the octopus. This consists of putting it in and taking it out 3 times, holding it in the water for a few seconds before taking it out. We do this so that the octopus skin stays where it is and does not come off when cooked.

Step 2 of Galician Octopus, how to prepare it easy

3) Cook the octopus

Once scared, we cook the octopus for approximately 35 minutes. This does not mean that it will be cooked in that time, but we have to check if it is done. Most likely, it will take a little more. The way to check it is by pricking it with a fork in the thickest part of the tentacles. If you see that the fork sticks in quite easily, it is time to remove it.

Step 3 of Galician Octopus, how to prepare it easy

4) Assemble the Galician octopus dish

Now we peel the potatoes, taking care not to burn ourselves, and cut them into slices of a size that we like. Then we place them covering the bottom of a large flat plate.

Step 4 of Galician Octopus, how to prepare it easy

5) Cut the tentacles of the octopus

Next, we cut the tentacles of the octopus divide them into slices about 2 cm thick (or as you want), and place them on top of the potato.

Step 5 of Galician Octopus, how to prepare it easy

6) Put paprika and olive oil

To finish off the Galician octopus, we put the classic fix with paprika and a good extra virgin olive oil.

Step 6 of Galician Octopus, how to prepare it easy

How to store and re-use Galician Octopus 

  1. Refrigerate Promptly: If you have leftover Galician Octopus, refrigerate it as soon as possible. Allow it to cool to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag.
  2. Use an Airtight Container: Store the octopus in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss and exposure to air, which can cause it to dry out and lose flavor.
  3. Drizzle with Olive Oil: Before sealing the container, drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil over the octopus. This will help keep it moist and flavorful while in the refrigerator.
  4. Label and Date: To keep track of freshness, label the container with the date when you cooked the Galician Octopus. Octopus is best when consumed within 2-3 days of preparation.
  5. Reheat Carefully: When you’re ready to enjoy the leftovers, reheat them gently to avoid overcooking. You can do this by steaming, microwaving, or briefly sautéing the octopus until it’s warmed through but not overcooked.

Remember that while it’s possible to freeze Galician Octopus, the texture may change slightly upon thawing, and it’s best enjoyed fresh. If you do freeze it, use an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag, and consume it within a few months for the best quality.

FAQ’s about the Galician Octopus – Simple Recipe 

1. What is the Galician Octopus (Pulpo a la Gallega)?

Galician Octopus, or Pulpo a la Gallega, is a traditional Spanish dish hailing from the region of Galicia. It features a tender octopus cooked to perfection and seasoned with paprika, olive oil, and salt. It’s a simple yet flavorful recipe that’s loved by many.

2. Where can I find octopus for this recipe?

You can usually find octopus at well-stocked seafood markets, fishmongers, or even some high-quality grocery stores. Look for fresh or frozen octopus, and if it’s frozen, make sure to thaw it properly before cooking.

3. How do I prepare octopus for cooking?

Start by cleaning the octopus thoroughly, removing the beak, eyes, and any innards. Rinse it under cold water to remove any residual sand or debris. Then, you can either boil it whole or cut it into smaller pieces, depending on your preference.

4. What’s the best way to tenderize a Galician octopus?

To achieve that melt-in-your-mouth texture, many cooks recommend boiling the octopus in salted water with a cork. Yes, a cork! This traditional method is said to help tenderize the octopus. Simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until it’s tender.

5. Can I use frozen octopus for this recipe?

Yes, frozen octopus can be used, but make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. This helps preserve the texture and flavor.

6. What kind of paprika should I use?

Spanish paprika, also known as pimentón, is traditionally used in this recipe. You can choose between sweet (dulce), smoked (ahumado), or hot (picante) paprika, depending on your spice preference.

7. Are there any variations of the Galician Octopus?

While the traditional recipe is quite simple, you can add your own twist to it. Some people like to add garlic, onions, or even red pepper flakes for extra flavor. However, purists tend to stick to the basic ingredients.

8. Can I make a Galician Octopus in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the octopus in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Reheat it gently before serving, drizzling with olive oil and paprika to refresh the flavors.

9. What’s the best way to serve Galician Octopus?

Galician Octopus is typically served on a wooden platter, garnished with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and a bit of coarse sea salt. It’s often accompanied by boiled potatoes or crusty bread.

10. Can I freeze leftover Galician Octopus? 

While it’s possible to freeze leftover Galician Octopus, the texture may change slightly upon thawing. It’s best enjoyed fresh. If you do freeze it, place it in an airtight container to minimize freezer burn.

Now that you have the answers to these frequently asked questions, you’re well-equipped to master the art of making delicious Galician Octopus (Pulpo a la Gallega). Enjoy your culinary adventure!