Galicia has a coastline of close to 1,500 km. So it’s only natural that pescado (fish) and marisco (shellfish) are the stars of Galician cuisine.
From mejillones (mussels) and merluza (hake) to chipirones (baby squid) or the expensive percebes (goose barnacles), there is a wide variety of sea produce to choose from.
But if I had to pick one only, it would have to be pulpo (octopus). Pulpo can be prepared in different ways. But the most popular and best known octopus recipe in Galicia is pulpo á feira, a very simple yet delicious dish. Á feira literally means fair-style.
Nowadays, you can find pulpo in many bares and restaurantes. But in the past, it was something you ate on fair days. There still are people who specialize in cooking pulpo. They go from one fair to another, set up their stall and serve pulpo.
Here’s how to prepare pulpo á feira
- If you buy a fresh pulpo, the first thing you need to do is to clean it very well and freeze it for at least a couple of days, in order to tenderize it. Otherwise, it will be too hard.
- When you are ready to prepare it, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw.
- Bring a big pot of water to the boil.
- Hold the pulpo by the head and dip it in and out of the boiling water three times. This will prevent the skin peeling off.
- After you’ve dipped it three times, put it back in the pan and bring it back to the boil. Cooking time depends a bit on the size of the pulpo, but it will take around 30 minutes. You can check with a fork if it’s tender enough (it should be kind of “al dente”, not too hard, not too tender).
- Once it’s cooked, take the pan away from the heat but leave the pulpo in the water for another 20 minutes.
- Then, cut it into pieces and arrange them on a serving plate (traditionally, it is served on a wooden plate).
- Sprinkle with sal (salt) and pimentón (paprika), picante (hot, spicy) if you like. And drizzle with aceite de oliva (olive oil).
- Finally, serve with plenty of pan and enjoy!
Pulpo can also be served with patatas. If you prefer it this way, here’s the secret to the perfect patatas. Take some of the water you used to cook the pulpo and use it to boil them. So much nicer than just boiling them in plain water!
Have you had pulpo á feira already? Did you like it? Share your experience!