Spanish braised octopus in paprika sauce is a simple recipe—most of the work is in the preparation of the octopus for finishing. Basically, you braise the octopus in its own juices and then cut it into pieces and dress it with a paprika-garlic sauce while it is still warm. This is a variant of a Spanish recipe known as "pulpo a la gallega." Any size octopus works with this recipe, which serves four as a starter or tapas.
If the octopus is fresh, put it in the freezer for 24 hours to tenderize it. The larger the octopus, the better, because the preparation process reduces it in size. Tenderizing the octopus properly is the secret to success when cooking it. Although octopus can be tough when the preparation is mishandled, a long, slow cooking method results in a surprisingly tender and flavorful dish.
- 1 to 2 pounds octopus
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 to 3 lemons
Preparation of Octopus
- Thaw the octopus in the refrigerator for a day or two.
- Wash the octopus thoroughly under running water paying particular attention to the suckers on the tentacles.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Place the octopus in the pot, cover it and return the water to a boil.
- Boil the octopus for 8 minutes.
- Take the octopus from the boiling water onto a cutting board and chop off its head. Discard the head for this recipe.
- Line a Dutch oven or similar pot with a nest of your choice of Spanish herbs and spices. Possibilities include a combination of oregano, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, laurel, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, basil or parsley. The octopus meat absorbs the flavors of the herbs and spices.
- Nestle the octopus legs into the nest of herbs. cover and cook for three to four hours at 200 F until tender.
- Cut the octopus into chunks and keep warm.
Preparation of the Paprika Sauce
- Meanwhile, put the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic in a mortar and pound it until it is a paste. Slowly add the olive oil, stirring and mashing all the while. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you could use a food processor, but the texture is different.
- While the octopus is still warm, put it into a large bowl and toss with the paprika-garlic sauce. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl and toss to combine.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with slices of lemon.