Pulpo Gallego: A Galician-Style Octopus Tapa

Galician octopus on plate with two glasses of white wine alongside

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 85 mins
Total: 100 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
338 Calories
9g Fat
35g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 338
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 479mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 21mg 106%
Calcium 113mg 9%
Iron 10mg 54%
Potassium 1337mg 28%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pulpo gallego, or Galician-style octopus, is a popular tapa (appetizer) served all over Spain today. It originated in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia where octopus (pulpo in Spanish) is a specialty and a common catch for local fishermen.

This tapa recipe is easy despite its unusual star ingredient. It is simply cooked octopus served with boiled potatoes, olive oil, and sweet Spanish paprika. Be sure to use good quality paprika and olive oil since they are the main flavorings. While it's a simple preparation, just plan ahead since the octopus will need to boil for at least an hour and chill for another hour.

Serve as part of a tapas spread with other dishes like patatas bravas, croquettes, or even a cheese plate. The dish pairs nicely with a dry white wine or vinho verde.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Pulpo Gallego (Galician octopus) gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Remove the octopus from the freezer and place it directly in the boiling water. Cook until tender—this usually takes about 1 hour for a 1- to 2-pound octopus. To test its tenderness, insert a knife where the legs and head meet. If it goes in easily, it's ready to eat.

    Whole octopus in pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove the octopus from the water and allow it to cool. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    Whole cooked octopus cooling on plate

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Cut the chilled meat into bite-sized chunks, slicing the legs in 1/2-inch rounds and the head into thin strips.

    Chilled octopus cut into bite-sized pieces

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Rinse the potatoes and clean with a vegetable brush. Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they can easily be pierced with a fork, about 25 to 25 minutes.

    Potatoes in a pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Drain the potatoes and rinse under cold running water. Allow the potatoes to cool, then peel. Slice into rounds approximately 1/3-inch thick.

    Cooked and sliced potatoes on cutting board with a knife

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Arrange the potato slices on a serving platter. Place the octopus on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and sweet paprika over top and serve.

    Sliced potatoes underneath cooked chopped octopus on a large plate

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


  • You can use either fresh or frozen octopus. Depending on where you live, it may be easier to find it frozen. Keep in mind that fresh octopus should not smell fishy; this is a sign that it's going bad.
  • If it's a fresh octopus, ask the fishmonger to clean it for you. Otherwise, cleaning octopus is not difficult to do yourself. Be sure to remove the ink sac, the section of the head with the eyes, the beak, and the internal organs.
  • If you find boiled octopus at a local international or gourmet food store, this will cut down on the time it takes to prepare this dish. Simply remove it from the package, rinse, and slice.

What does octopus taste like?

If cooked properly, octopus is tender and some say similar to calamari in taste, while others say chicken.