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How to Make Galician-Style Octopus: The Perfect Recipe

Pulpo a la gallega

Galician-style octopus is one of the most representative dishes of Galician cuisine. Although it resembles octopus “á feira”, there is a difference, as Galician style octopus is served with “cachelos,” which are pieces of boiled potato.

In this dish, the octopus stands out as the star ingredient, as it is made with very few ingredients. Therefore, it is essential to choose a high-quality octopus and cook it properly to achieve a tender texture.

Today, we’ll be talking about one of the most iconic dishes on the Chao Pescao seafood menu. We’ll explain how to make Galician-style octopus with this step-by-step recipe and tell you the best tricks so you can succeed with your culinary skills.

Ingredients needed to make Galician Style Octopus:

  • 1 octopus
  • 4 potatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Sweet or hot paprika to taste

How to Make Galician Style Octopus

Fresh or Frozen Octopus?

The secret to this recipe for Galician-style octopus is using a good cooking technique. Octopus is a seasonal food: the best is octopus caught in winter. If you want to enjoy Galician octopus during low season, you’ll have to buy it frozen.

To ensure that fresh octopus becomes tender, it needs to be beaten, which is not easy to do in a kitchen. In fact, it’s usually beaten against the rocks near the sea. The good news is that you can achieve the same result by freezing it beforehand. Freezing breaks down the muscle fibres and the meat becomes tender. If you buy fresh octopus, freeze it right after purchase for at least 48 hours before cooking it.

Cooking the Octopus

The first thing you should do is completely thaw the octopus. Ideally, do this in the refrigerator in a large bowl, as it releases a lot of water. You can also thaw it in a bag submerged in room temperature water. Before cooking, clean the octopus under a stream of cold water to remove any possible impurities.

Choose a large pot so the octopus can be fully submerged in the water. Fill the pot and bring the water to a boil. When it starts boiling, you need to “scare” the octopus. It’s very simple: grab the octopus by the head and dip it in the water three times, being careful not to burn yourself. This step prevents the skin from peeling off.

After scaring it, place it in the pot and start counting the cooking time from when the water boils again. We recommend buying an octopus of about two kilogrammes; it’s an ideal size for home cooking and achieving the right cooking point. Estimate about 20-25 minutes to cook a two kilogramme octopus.

To check if the octopus is done, you should poke it with a skewer or scissors in the thickest part of the tentacle closest to the head. If the meat yields without difficulty, the octopus is cooked.

It’s very important to cook the octopus without adding salt to the water. The octopus is always seasoned with salt before serving.


To ensure that the octopus is tender and juicy, we recommend letting it rest covered in the cooking water for 15 minutes before cutting it.

Prepare the “Cachelos”

Depending on the region of Galicia, “cachelos” are prepared in different ways. To simplify, “cachelos” are chunks of boiled potato. You can cook them in the same water as the octopus and they will take on a pinkish hue. Some prefer to boil them in separate water; we leave that choice to you.

The potatoes will need about 15-20 minutes to become tender. Be careful not to overcook them, so they don’t fall apart.

Plating up

The octopus is typically cut with scissors and served hot. Cut the tentacles into round slices and the head into bite-sized pieces. Traditionally, it’s served on a wooden plate because wood absorbs any excess water from the octopus.

Prepare a base with the potatoes, place the octopus slices on top and drizzle with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. The choice of oil is crucial to enhance the flavour of the octopus. The best choice is an Hojiblanca variety, which adds herbaceous and fresh notes without masking the strength of the octopus’s flavour.

Finish with flaked sea salt and a good amount of sweet or hot paprika, or a blend of both . A trick to evenly distribute the paprika without clumps is to sprinkle it through a fine-mesh sieve.

Serve your Galician style octopus with good bread; if you can find Galician “bolla” bread, even better. You can accompany this seafood dish with a young Galician red wine or an Albariño, although it also pairs perfectly with a Godello single-varietal wine.

Now you know how to prepare Galician-style octopus at home. But if you want to enjoy all its flavour without having to cook, at the Chao Pescao seafood restaurant in Barcelona we serve delicious Galician-style octopus or grilled octopus prepared with all the care and expertise by our chefs.

We look forward to seeing you!

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