Barcelona- Galician Octopus with potatoes (Pulpo a la gallega)

Shown here with a platter of veggies and toast served with Romesco sauce

Ohhhhh Barcelona!! this should have been the first post but its been difficult for me to write. Maybe because I have so much to say, maybe because I don’t even know what dish to start off with since I loved all of them, my thoughts are everywhere. All I know is this trip is dear to my heart and is a start of something bigger. Why? This is my first solo trip, also the first time I’ve been away from home for so long (4 weeks). This is me pretending to live abroad, since I’ve never taken the opportunity pre-motherhood to do so. I didn’t do this trip because I was lost, nor because I was trying to find myself. I did it solely for the purpose of getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself in being in a foreign country and absorbing in a different culture. I wanted to explore every nook and cranny of this beautiful city, from the food to the architecture to the art and to the people. I’m not going to lie, the couple of times that I had dinner by myself was a bit difficult. But shortly after you’ll learn to let go of self consciousness and converse with those around you, the easiest being at a pintxos bar.

After the first week, things started becoming more routine – I went to the gym 4-5x/week, taking the metro became second nature, I adapted to their meal times ( take the U.S. regular meal time and add that by 2 hours = Spanish time). I took a paella cooking class,  explored the architecture from the concert hall to Gaudi’s masterpieces, took day trips outside of Barcelona to Sitges, Girona, and Tossa de Mar, the list goes on. I met very inspirational people, bold individuals who used their talent as a gateway to traveling all over the world. One was a physical therapist who would spend months at a time going to places such as India, South America, and Asia to explore and offer assistance to heal the underserved population.  Another relocated from the U.S. to Japan then Dubai for work, and like a chameleon, just assimilated to the way of life.  Being that I grew up in Boston and have been here the past 26+ years, the thought of relocating scares the crap out of me but the idea also excites me at the same time. These encounters made me dig deeper to manifest my own passions and using that as my creative outlet. Creating this page was on my mind prior to Barcelona, but the confidence after the experience pushed me to actually make it happen.

Pulpo a la Gallega

The first time I had really good grilled octopus was actually in Cancun (who would’ve thought right?), and I’ve been obsessed ever since. So naturally when I saw octopus on the menus in Barcelona I had to give it a try. I have to say, you could either love or hate octopus at the first bite, depending on how it’s cooked. When cooked right, the meat is so tender it literally melts in your mouth. I must’ve ordered this dish on 7-8 occasions while there and still can’t get enough now that I’m back home.  This dish originated from a province in Spain called Galicia, north of Portugal on the west coast, prominent for their seafood as it is situated on the coastline. Typically cooked in a copper pot to accentuate the purple color of the octopus but in this case, it was substituted by placing a clean penny in the pot to imitate similar results.  Although pretty easy to make, it is time consuming if you want to ensure tenderness. FYI- this recipe was obtained from Food and Wine magazine, only changing the consistency of the potatoes (pureed vs sliced).

Serving 1


1/2 lb fresh octopus tentacles

1 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tsp salt

1 bay leave

1 clean penny

2 medium yukon potatoes, peeled

1 tbsp butter (optional)

1/2 cup milk or cream (optional)

2 tbsp olive oil

parsley for garnish

pimenton or smoked paprika



In a large pot, bring water to a boil (about 3/4 of pot). Add salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, and penny.  Dip octopus in 3 times then leave in water, lower heat to low/simmer, cook for 1.5  hours. 30 minutes prior to the octopus being done cooking, you can prepare the potatoes. You have two options- traditionally the potatoes are sliced (1/4″ pieces), but I like mines pureed. If you are slicing, there is no need to add butter/cream to your potatoes. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and boil until fork tender. If leaving it sliced, just drain it out and you’re basically done. If pureed, drain potatoes, and milk, butter, and salt to taste. Using a immersion blender, puree until smooth. For the octopus- take out of pot and brush on olive oil. You can either grill, broil, or use a hand torch to finish it off, leaving it with a slight charred finish. Plating- potatoes on the bottom, then octopus, garnish with chopped parsley, sprinkle of salt, and pimenton or smoked paprika.

20B48CA4-A760-4F91-9E6C-C9CE114AD891 2
Different variations of Pulpo a la Gallega with the exception of the last two





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