Grilled Octopus

Grilled octopus

My first introduction to octopus that was full-flavored, not too chewy, and actually appealed to me, was in Spain. Pulpo, grilled octopus in the style of Galicia, or Pulpo a la Gallega, is tender and savory. Pulpo, or grilled octopus, is typically served in Spain and other areas of the Mediterranean and is beloved as a tapa or an appetizer.

Most octopus needs to be tenderized. That can be accomplished in a number of ways. Some recipes recommend that you beat the octopus with a stone or against a wall to break down the tough muscles of the octopus. Or you can freeze the octopus first to tenderize it. That’s a lot easier isn’t it?

We purchased our octopus from Whole Foods. The octopus has already been frozen so that first step has already been accomplished.  Put down the stone and get out the chopping board. Cooking the octopus happens in three parts. First the octopus is plunged into a pot of boiling water.  Second, the octopus is braised for about 2 hours in a deep pot on a bed of herbs in the oven. After it is braised, the octopus is chopped into chunks before grilling.

Finally and third, the octopus is charred on the grill for about 5 minutes.

Once the octopus has been lightly grilled, place the chunks on a small platter. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, lemon juice, and some freshly ground black pepper. I like to serve the octopus or pulpo with a crunchy, crispy bread. Soaking up the olive oil and herbs and the octopus with a slice of warm crusty bread takes me back to a small cafe in Galicia in Spain when we were walking the camino.

When the pulpo is served as an appetizer in Spain, it is usually served with steamed or boiled potatoes and with a sprinkling of smoky paprika. It is also typical to serve the grilled octopus with a slightly chilled young red wine. Salud!


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