Pulpo a la Gallega

The region of Galicia is known throughout Spain for its classic gastronomy. It is situated to the north of Portugal and has an extensive Atlantic coastline and so , not surprisingly, seafood is the defining feature of Galician cuisine. Shellfish and tuna empanadas (pies) are common in the region, and is often combined in meals with potatoes - the most abundant agricultural crop in Galicia.

The dish that is most associated with the region, however, is Pulpo a la Gallega (Polbo à Feira in the Galician language). Pulpo a la Gallega is quite a simple dish with only four ingredients: octopus, olive oil, paprika and salt. And its tastiness depends heavily on excellent preparation and high quality fresh ingredients.

Pulpo a la Gallega

Preparation of Pulpo a la Gallega

With such a simple list of ingredients, the key to making an excellent pulpo a la gallega is in the preparation. The octopus is boiled in a copper pot, with the tentacles first dipped into the water to make them curl slightly.

The octopus is boiled for around twenty minutes, before being left to rest for a further twenty minutes away from the heat. There is a very short time period between the octopus being sufficiently cooked and it becoming rubbery - judging this to perfection is the principle skill in preparing pulpo a la gallega.

After the resting period, the tentacles are separated from the head and are cut into pieces with scissors. The tentacles are tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt and paprika.

Preparing Octopus

Serving the Pulpo

Pulpo a la gallega is traditionally served on wooden plates with either bread or boiled potatoes. Local custom dictates that it is accompanied by red wine rather than water.

You can find pulpo a la gallega throughout Spain, but the best is still in Galicia. Somewhat surprisingly, the Lugo region has the best reputation for the dish, despite it having a relatively small coastline.

The dish is not an overly complicated dish, but the key is cooking the octopus to tender perfection. Forget the rubbery stuff you may have had in the past, pulpo a la gallega is the best way we have come across to serve octopus. It is a mouth-wateringly tasty dish.

If you would like to try Pulpo a la Gallega in Galicia at its most authentic, one great way of exploring the region is by hiking or biking the Camino de Santiago.

Check out details of the tour we run in the area below, and don't hesitate to contact us for more information.

Hospital de Orbigo Bridge
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,690 EUR