pulpo gallego

Pulpo Gallego, Spanish Octopus with Paprika

Since this recipe is good either warm or at room temperature, and because it keeps for several days, it is a perfect make-ahead recipe for parties or whatever. I like dipping into a stash of pulpo gallego while watching TV; it's perfect to munch on with good, crusty bread. You'll note that my method of cooking octopus does take a while, but it's the best way I know to concentrate the flavor of octopus while at the same time tenderizing it.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Serves 6 people
Author Hank Shaw


  • 2 to 3 pounds octopus
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Tops from a fennel bulb
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 2 to 3 green onions, chopped roughly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Lemon wedges to serve


  1. First you'll need to tenderize the octopus. Boil a large pot of salty water. Cook the octopus for 2 minutes, then remove to a cutting board. While the octos are cooling turn the oven to 225°F.

  2. Line a heavy, lidded pot with the parsley, fennel fronds, oregano, green onions and bay leaves. Trim fatty bits from the octopus and clean out the heads (normally this last step has been done for you, but not always). Cut the octopi into large pieces and nestle into the pot of greens. Cover the pot and cook for 90 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how large and tough the octopi are. I typically shoot for 2 hours. Don't worry about the lack of liquid in the pot: The octos will release enough to make a flavorful broth.

  3. When the octopus is tender, remove from the pot and cut into serving-sized pieces. Coat with some of the olive oil and either grill or broil until you get some char marks, about 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Toss the octopus with the rest of the olive oil, garlic, the paprika, smoked paprika and cayenne. Add salt and black pepper to taste and serve with lemon wedges, at room temperature or slightly warm. Serve with bread.