Today is a holiday in my region. We celebrate Galician literature and every year we commemorate an author. This year, 2017, goes to Carlos Casares.
But as you might have guessed, I also celebrate the day with food. I’m a proud Galician. My culture is very rich, our language is full of musicality and our tradition is amazing. We have many traces that make us different from the rest of the regions and one of them is the accent. Every time we open our mouths to say something in another part of Spain, we get someone spotting that we are from Galicia and I personally love it. I associate Galicia with love, good food, mild weather, green woods, good beer, good wine and nice people.
As far as gastronomy is concerned, Spain in general has a tremendously rich one, and Galicia is known to be one of the richest. Probably the most famous dish of all times would be Galician Style Octopus. It is a way to praise the good quality of our products, without adding too much condiments or sauces. Seafood here is really appreciated.
For this recipe you’ll only need five ingredients, less than an hour to prepare and probably less than five minutes before the dish is empty.
1 whole octopus (mine weighted 2 kg approximately)
5 big potatoes
Spicy paprika (better if smoked)
Extra virgin olive oil (I use Picual variety)
First of all, if in your area you can’t find octopus in supermarkets, I’ve made a quick research online and I’m adding a list of some online shops were you can find it.
In Spain and Portugal, as well as in other European countries I’ve visited, you can find it easily.
The second step, in case you’ve bought it fresh instead of frozen, will be freezing it. It is basically the same the fishermen do when they beat them against a rock. If you don’t beat it or freeze it, the texture would be terribly harsh and you’ll think octopus is horrible, which is not true. So, do yourself a favour and make sure it has been in the freezer before you cook it.
To start cooking, though, you need to thaw it. Leave it overnight in the fridge, or until it is completly thawed. The bigger the octopus, the longer it needs.
Add the potatoes. In Galicia, we leave the skin on and call them cachelos, but if you want to eat pink potatoes with loads of octopus flavour, peel them. Both ways taste awesome.
Now, the tough part. The texture in this dish is everything. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Whole families start fights when octopus texture is discussed. I’ve heard that some people don’t talk to each other after an octopus fight (just kidding, but some people gets really intense). Octopus is supposed to be a little bit tough, not soft, not chewy, not even tough…just a little bit on the tough side with a lot of texture. But again, there will be people that loves soft octopus and some others that can’t stand it. In my case, I like it when it has texture, but if someone cooks it for me and it’s soft, I’m sure it’s going to be delicious anyway.
For a 2 kg octopus I would boil it for around 55-60 minutes, but it always depends on the kind of heat you are using and the octopus itself. My tip is to open the lid when it has been cooking for about 45 minutes and check it, then check again in 10 minutes and when you feel it’s almost done, leave it 3-4 minutes.
Then, using a knife or a pair of scissors, cut the octopus in slices, leaving the ends of the tentacles in one piece.
Cut the potatoes as well and season everything equally with salt, paprika and a good amount of olive oil.
Serve with cottage bread and Albariño wine. It’s a great dish to share with people. We usually use toothpicks to grab it instead of forks. This makes it perfect for parties. It’s delicious hot or cold, so you can make it ahead and enjoy it after everything is done.
And that’s it for the recipe. I love to enjoy it with some Padrón Peppers, for which I’ll need a whole post to talk about.
To finish with, I’ll leave you with a quote from this year’s author Carlos Casares: “Todo estaba demasiado preto para que os nosos soños se puidesen converter en realidade.” meaning “Everything was too close for our dreams to come true”
Links to shops where you can find octopus and other products from the sea. If you know any other shop or if you’ve tried any of these, let me know in the comments.
Europe and USA: