Classic Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus Tapa) Recipe

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Cooking the octopus in the pressure cooker drastically reduces cooking time.
  • An alternate method for those without a pressure cooker makes this recipe accessible for all.

Pulpo gallego, one of the most famous tapas dishes from Spain's northwestern region of Galicia, features rounds of tender octopus topped with olive oil, salt, and Spanish smoked paprika. Here's how to make it, whether quickly with a pressure cooker or without.

Recipe Details

Classic Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus Tapa) Recipe

Active 15 mins
Total 45 mins
Serves 4 to 8 servings


  • 1 (2 1/2-pound; 1kg) whole octopus, rinsed well (including inside head cavity)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved (optional)

  • 3 medium cloves garlic (optional)

  • Kosher salt (see note)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  • Pimentón dulce (sweet smoked Spanish paprika), to taste (see note)


  1. If Using a Pressure Cooker: Place octopus in pressure cooker and add just enough water to cover. (Be sure to keep water level below pressure cooker's maximum fill line.) Add onion and garlic, if using, along with a couple of large pinches of salt. Close pressure cooker and bring to high pressure (12 to 15 psi). Once cooker has reached high pressure, cook for 15 minutes.

  2. Using steam-release valve, depressurize cooker rapidly. Check octopus for tenderness by sliding a paring knife into the thickest part of one of its tentacles; it should slide in easily with little resistance. If octopus is not tender enough, return to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes longer. (Fifteen minutes was the correct time based on all our tests, but variations in the octopus, such as size, and in the pressure cooker used may change the cooking time slightly.) Let octopus cool slightly in its cooking liquid, then drain and discard onion and garlic. Continue with step 4.

  3. If Using a Conventional Pot: Place octopus in a large pot and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Add onion and garlic, if using, along with a couple of large pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then lower heat and continue to simmer until octopus is tender (a paring knife should slide into the thickest part of one of its tentacles easily), 1 to 2 hours. Let octopus cool slightly in its cooking liquid, then drain and discard onion and garlic.

  4. To Serve: Cut out and discard the hard beak (if it hasn't been removed already by the fishmonger), which is found in the center of the base of the octopus body, where the tentacles converge. Cut out and discard the section of the head with eyes; the rest of the head is edible. Separate tentacles into individual pieces.

  5. Cut tentacles crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and head into small strips. Arrange on a plate in a single layer. Sprinkle salt all over, drizzle with olive oil, and dust with smoked paprika to taste. Serve.

Special equipment

Electric or stovetop pressure cooker (get our full review)


Feel free to add a touch of hot pimentón in addition to the sweet (i.e., not spicy) kind, if you have it and if that appeals to you. You can use kosher salt for sprinkling on the dish before serving, a tender sea salt like fleur de sel, or a flaky salt like Maldon.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
118 Calories
3g Fat
3g Carbs
19g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 118
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 384mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 441mg 9%
*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.)