“Spice your life up with some Galician style octopus with potatoes.” This is a good start to this recipe. If you have never had this dish, you are really missing out on one of the most emblematic Galician recipes. Anyone that visits Galicia will typically try this dish in a bar, a restaurant, on a stall on the street, or on one of the town fests that alternate from town to town every Sunday of the year.
The most important thing in this recipe is to get the right consistency of the octopus. You have to get it just right: not too soft, not too hard, just a little firm so it is easy to chew. I suggest you buy frozen octopus, this way you will avoid having to tenderize it by hitting it against the rocks!
Directions to prepare the dish:
- It is important to soften the octopus before you cook it. At the island of Ons, I have seen how they used to do this the traditional way by repeatedly hitting the octopus against a rock. Lucky for us, we don’t have to do this, if you freeze it, you will get a very similar effect. So either buy the octopus fresh and freeze it, or buy it already frozen.
- The day before, take the octopus out of the freezer and leave it in the fridge to thaw. Make sure you place the octopus it in a large pot or bowl, a lot of water will be released, and you don’t want it to overflow in your fridge. Just before cooking, rinse it under cold water to clean.
- Fill a large pot (the largest one you have) with water, add a whole peeled onion, and bring to a boil (you don’t need to add salt; the salt in this dish will be added at the end). When the water starts boiling, grab the octopus by the head and “scare” it. This technique consists in dipping the octopus 3 or 4 times in the boiling water. The purpose of doing this is so it stiffens/contracts, and the skin doesn’t break during the cooking process.
- Boil the octopus for about 45-50 minutes over medium heat (the time will depend on the size of the octopus). Prick it from time to time to check how hard it is. The first time you cook octopus is always the hardest, since it takes some practice to cook the meat just right, but it gets easier.
- While the octopus is boiling, wash and peel the potatoes and then cut them in halves. Set aside.
- When the octopus is done, remove from the boiling water, place in a platter and let it cool. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and boil for about 15 minutes. If you don’t want the potatoes to turn slightly pink, you can boil them in clean water, I like my potatoes to soak the octopus flavor, so I boil them in the same water as the octopus.
- Slice the octopus legs with scissors (about ½ of an inch wide slices,) cut the head into small pieces.
- Serve on a wooden platter: place the potatoes on the bottom and the octopus on top. Add the sea salt, sprinkle the paprika, and add a splash of olive oil. I also like to add a little bit of the cooking water.
So you see, it is that simple: red octopus colored by the paprika, with pearls of salt, and bathed in olive oil… Yummy! Enjoy it, and … hooray for Galicia!