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Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician Octopus)

Pulpo a la gallega is my favorite memory of Ronda, a town in the southern Spanish state of Andalucia. Since pulpo a la gallega is just the name of the recipe, the octopus need not come from the costal waters of Galicia. It may come from anywhere--from other coastal regions of Spain, from Portugal, or even from Morocco. (The latter country exports a large quantity of octopus to Spain.) Octopus from the Philippines can be used for the recipe too. If you have a choice, aim for the octopus from colder waters (Portugal or Galicia), as they tend to have more flavor.


1 octopus (2-2.5 lb / 1 kg)
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
olive oil (aim for a fruity, extra-virgin oil)
2 potatoes, preferably yukon gold

Freeze octopus for 2 days. This helps to tenderize it.
Thaw out octopus. Using a kitchen knife, slice up the webbing in between the legs and cut each leg off as high as possible. Meanwhile, start boiling water (about 2 quarts) with the bay leaf.

If desired, cut off the thin, stringy, meatless tips of each leg (roughly the last 2-3 inches). Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer, beat the legs until they begin to loosen up a little. When water is boiling, put all eight legs in the pot. After 45 minutes, add potatoes to the pot.

Boil for for 30 minutes more, or until the thick, top parts of each leg are soft when squeezed with kitchen tongs. Cut a sliver off the top part of a leg. It should be tender, and not chewy at all. The water will be purple. If a more gelatinous texture is preferred, leave the legs in about 20 minutes longer. SAVE THE WATER! It will come in handy for flavoring paella rice.

Slice legs into 1/2" (1 cm) slices. Slice potatoes into 1/4" (.5cm) slices. Drizzle olive oil on serving plate. Arrange potato slices in the middle, and the octopus slices around the end. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Drizzle more olive oil on top. Sprinkle paprika on top of everything.

Serves 4 appetizer portions.

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©2016 Darrin DuFord