ulpo a la gallega or Spanish style octopus is a traditional dish of the cuisine of the country where we are from, Spain. The octopus is cooked whole, in its most common form served without potatoes, but there are many regions where you will see that it is served with them, cut into irregular pieces. When the presentation is like this, you will see that it is called Pulpo a la gallega con cachelos (the potatoes are cooked with the skin).

The preparation of this recipe is simple, although small details that will make this dish a real festive delicacy must be taken into account. The choice of the octopus is one of these important details that will determine the result. Be sure the octopus has a good size, so that when it is cut into pieces the slices are generous.

When making a good Galician style octopus, the choice of raw material is key. Choose first quality octopus if you want to guarantee the success of your dish. Another important point before elaborating this recipe is the choice of a suitable pot, it should not be too big but it must be taken into account that the octopus must be completely submerged and have space for the juice that will be released when cooking.

Making this recipe from a frozen octopus will make the preparation much easier. This is because you do not have to worry about softening the octopus meat, the freezing process itself takes care of it. This is an important point before cooking the octopus since in this process its fibers will break and the octopus meat will be perfect for cooking.


  • 1 octopus of 2 kg (for each extra kg we add 10 minutes of cooking time)
  • 1 large potato (optional)
  • Spicy paprika de la Vera (or sweet if you do not tolerate spicy or you are cooking for children)
  • EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • Coarse salt

How to prepare

1. Before you start, the octopus should ideally be thawed 24 hours in advance in a container in the refrigerator. If this time is not possible, you can thaw the octopus in a bag at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. When the octopus is ready to use, boil water (without salt) in a big pot. Make sure there is enough water so that when you introduce the octopus it is completely covered.

3. Once the water starts boiling, you have to “scare” the octopus. It means to put it in and take it out of the boiling water three times for 5 seconds each time before leaving it completely submerged. When doing this, the skin of the octopus remains attached to the meat (this is an essential step if you want it to be more juicy). Once introduced in the water, lower the heat so that it does not bubble too much and cook for approximately 30 minutes.

4. If you prefer to add to your dish the option with potatoes, peel, wash and cut them in three very thick slices to put them in the octopus water for the last 10 minutes.

5. When the established time has expired, prick one of the legs of the octopus (in its thickest area) to make sure it is tender. Depending on the piece, it may need a few more minutes. If it is ready, remove it from the stove and drain the excess of water.

6. You have surely seen it served on wooden plates in Spain. You can do it this way if you want to give it a traditional touch. If not, you can always opt for a ceramic one or even more elaborate and original plating. This is only a decision that affects the presentation more than the final result of the recipe.

7. If you have decided to cook the octopus with the potato, cut it into pieces and distribute it on the plate so that you make a “bed” for the octopus meat. Cut the octopus in slices of approximately 1 centimeter thick on it until the whole dish is covered.

8. Once we have the dish ready with the octopus and the potato, sprinkle everything with olive oil. And then, add coarse salt and finally the spicy paprika.

Now you just have to enjoy this wonderful delicacy of our gastronomy!

Additional tips:

  • The octopus head is not usually served in this dish, but it is still an excellent raw material full of nutritional properties that you can use in other recipes such as salpicón, salad, rice, pasties…
  • You can also choose to prepare this recipe with cooked octopus. In case the octopus is frozen, the thawing process would be the same as for the raw octopus. Once defrosted, cut it with a knife and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Then, just season it to taste.

To sum up, we remind you that the selection of the raw material is a fundamental factor to take into account. Octopus is usually liked by both adults and children, in addition to being a low-fat food that provides us with a large amount of protein, vitamins and omega 3. Including it in your life is not only a delight, but a guarantee of health.

If you like traditional octopus dishes, try this octopus with caramelized onion recipe. You will love it!

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