How to make Galician octopus

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The Galician octopus or “polbo to feira” as it is known there, is one of the most famous and savory delicacies of Galicia and, by extension, of Spanish cuisine. We can taste it in any bar, tavern, restaurant, or also in the “pulpeiras” stalls that we can find in Galician streets on holidays or during fairs that are usually held periodically (hence the name “á feira”). But we can also prepare this dish at home, more economically, just by buying a good octopus at the fishmonger or supermarket, a few potatoes and coarse saltpaprika and olive oil to season it. So if Galicia catches you away, it is not a sufficient excuse for not eating this delicious dish. In this article we explain how to make Galician octopus.


  • 1 octopus of 2 kg.
  • 1 onion (optional).
  • ½ kg of potatoes.
  • Water.
  • Coarse salt.
  • Sweet and spicy paprika (to taste).
  • Olive oil.

Steps to follow to make this recipe:

  • Before preparing the Galician octopus, it is very important to soften it before cooking;  when it is fresh it is usually done by hitting it or mashing it, but luckily if we freeze it the result is practically the same. So, for the octopus meat to be tenderer, we must freeze it if we have bought it fresh or buy it directly frozen.
  • We take the octopus out of the freezer the day before and put it in the fridge to thaw.  We should put it in a saucepan or a large bowl because it will release a lot of liquid.
  • When we go to make the Galician octopus, we will run it under the tap with cold water  to remove any impurities. Also, you need to know how to clean an octopus to remove any type of dirt, especially before freezing it.
  • We put a very large casserole on the fire with water and a whole peeled onion (it is not mandatory to put it, it can also be done without it); It is important not to add salt because the octopus á feira is salted at the end, in the presentation.
  • When it starts to boil, add the octopus, take it by the head and “frighten” it, that is, we will put and remove the octopus 3-4 times from the pan to ensure that the octopus remains stiff and does not shed the skin during cooking.
  • Cook the octopus for about 45-50 minutes over medium heat, but this will vary depending on the size. You have to tap it from time to time to see how hard it is.
  • While the octopus is cooking, peel, wash and cut the potatoes in half, and reserve them on a plate.
  • When we finish cooking the octopus, let it rest for a few minutes and then drain it and remove it to a source.
  • In the same water where we have boiled the octopus, we add the potatoes and cook them for 15 minutes.
  • We cut the octopus with kitchen scissors; the legs in pieces of approximately 1 cm thick and the head in small pieces, since this is how the Galician octopus is served authentically.
  • We serve on a wooden plate -or any other plate if we don’t have a wooden one- with a potato base.
  • We will dress the octopus and the potatoes with coarse salt, sprinkle with the paprika (spicy or sweet, as desired) and sprinkle with plenty of oil to have our Galician octopus ready. Enjoy your meal!


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