I'm fascinated by the octopus - not just from a gastronomical point of view, but from a biological one too. It's a remarkable creature. Incredibly smart. Three hearts and blue blood. It transforms its boneless body into impressive shapes and sizes. And if you haven't seen the Mimic octopus in action, you should.
When it comes to eating octopus, I'm just as enthusiastic.
Cooking with this cephalopod takes me back to the steamy pulperías (restaurants serving exclusively octopus) of Galicia, north-west Spain. Galicia is famous for its love of octopus, and for one dish in particular: pulpo a la gallega. This simple dish contains only four ingredients - octopus ("pulpo"), potatoes, salt and paprika. It's a revelation.
A late lunch with friends recently was the perfect occasion to cook up a dish of pulpo a la gallega. From the Sydney Fish Markets I bought three octopuses.
Pulpo a la gallega // RECIPE
3 medium octopuses
1kg potatoes, whole and peels (use a waxy variety like Red Bliss or New Potato)
Course sea salt, EVOO, paprika
1. Tenderise the octopus. How? Smash it repeatedly on a hard surface. See below for more options.
2. Cook the octopus. While times vary, I cooked these medium octopuses for around 25 minutes, then left them to rest away from the heat fro about the same time.
3. Cook potatoes until soft in the centre.
4. Slice the cooled potatoes into segments of around 1cm thickness, and arrange on a wooden board (or whatever you have).
5. Slice the octopus into similar sized pieces and arrange on top of the potatoes
6. Drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle lots of salt and shake it all over in the best quality smoked paprika you can buy.
Ways to tenderize an octopus
🐙 Smash it on the rocks repeatedly (to break up the strong tissue)
🐙 Plunge it in and out of boiling water three times before leaving it in to cook. This 'scares' it.
🐙 Cook it with two corks in the water (Italian method - I can't vouch for this)
🐙 Buy it frozen. When you cook it it'll be very tender.
🐙 Brine it. (Brining is life 🙌🏼)