Friday, July 28, 2017

Spanish Octopus – Now 100% Trick Free

I’ve never been to Spain, so to what extent this is actually Spanish octopus, I can’t really say, but after having enjoyed this underrated seafood in more Spanish restaurants than I can remember, it has to be pretty close.

Above and beyond the ingredients, the cooking method, or should I say methods, couldn’t be easier. As long as you braise it gently on low heat, until just tender, and then give it a nice sear before serving, you should be in great shape. Which is why I’ve never understood all the crazy tips and tricks, for achieving the perfect texture.

Some say to beat it on rocks before braising, while others insist a few wine corks are the way to go. If you have one of these magical techniques, I’d love to hear about it, especially if it sounds extra nutty, but I have to admit, I am a skeptic.

You should be able to find frozen Spanish octopus at your finer markets, which is the only kind I’ve ever used, so I can’t say how much better it is fresh, but one day I would love to find out, preferably in Spain. Fresh or frozen, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for two portions:
1 pound piece Spanish octopus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine
- Serve with crusty roasted potatoes

For the sauce:
About 1/3 cup reserve braising liquid (boiled, strained)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
salt to taste
cayenne to taste


Rainwater739 said...

Chef Jon,

I am a long time fan (since your Cheesy Crackers video from 2013)! I love your videos and I've used a few with outstanding success. However, I have a food wish I think you may enjoy figuring out: gluten-free kishka (a spiced polish blood sausage, pronounced KEESH-Kah). As a Pol and a recent member of the gluten-free group (it's not fun), I am frustrated at my options for foods of my heritage. The thing I miss the most is kishka. It's usually made with barley and sometimes wheat, and I've been unable to find a (relatively) simple recipe to make at home or one to purchase online. Can you help?


Nik said...

Chef John, thanks a lot for your interest in Spahish cuisine. I am from Bilbao, on the north coast, and I can confirm that your dish is a perfectly cooked braised octopus ("pulpo a la brasa") using exclusively Spanish products.

Braised octopus is just a version of the more common boiled dish, "pulpo a feira", which is what first comes to mind when you mention octopus in Spain. You should also try this, it's delicious. Here's a link, and I guess you'd manage very well with Google Translator

As for tricks for making it tender, nowadays people use the freezing and thawing the octopus two or three consecutive times, but I personally have never tried it.

It would be great if you could come to Spain and taste the wonderful and varied dishes we have here. You'd also find fine people who'd welcome you with open arms.

Thank you very much for your cooking lessons! - Dominique

Divtal said...

Chef John - If you haven't discovered "The Spanish Table," in SF's inner Richmond district, you must visit. They carry Spanish specialty foods (some Moroccan, too), wines, cookware and novelty items. They're on the north side of Clement St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves.. (I have no connection to them, except as a customer.)

This recipe is the perfect "excuse" to go there, again, soon.

msgs said...

Estimado Chef Jhon.
Leyendo su receta de Pulpo a la española desearía realizar, si me permite, algún comentario al respecto ya que aun siendo la receta muy apetecible, estructurada y con todo el sentido del buen hacer, creo conveniente decir:
- El pulpo no se aconseja que sea de un peso superior a 2.5 Kg (5 Lb)
- Para una cocción casi perfecta se debe de congelar en cuanto se adquiera (cuanto más fresco se congele mejor será) y dejar descongelar una noche en el frigorífico.
- Antes de dejar cocer, introducir y sacar el pulpo en el agua hirviendo tres veces y una vez hecho esto dejar cocer en torno a 45 ó 60 minutos en agua con una hoja de laurel, unos granos de pimienta y sal.
- Servir recién hecho. Para ello se corta con unas tijeras en trozos de entre 4 y 6 milímetros de grosor. Rociar con aceite de oliva virgen extra, pimentón picante y sal gorda en este orden.
- Como acompañamiento se cuecen unas patatas (que no sean nuevas) cortándolas en rodajas de unos 5 mm de grosor, las cuales se aderezan también con aceite de oliva y sal al gusto.
. Acompañar con pan de trigo duro bastante cocido y una copa de vino tinto de calidad

Éxito asegurado al 100 %.
Muchísimas gracias por su tiempo.

juliano r. said...

nice recipe! the problem with many pasta or rice dishes recipes with seafood, is that they generally dont give a realistic way how to cook tender octopus (or squid).
the extra step may be really necessary for a great dish

Wahab said...

Chef John! I've already posted a comment on the youtube video i just wanted to say it again i'd love love love to see your take on the kuwaiti machboos which is rice served with lamb or chicken. Its more complicated than that but i'd be happy to give you my recipe if your having trouble finding english sources for this dish before you tweak it to your liking. It's my ultimate food wish and i would be forever grateful. Thank you! :)

Unknown said...

100% rock solid delicious sonofabitch recipe. My octopus was perfect after braising for exactly one hour. This is up there with the jerk chicken wings (thanks for naming them after me) recipe. I'll be making this again and I won't be changing a single thing. I was left with quite a bit of extra dressing which was promptly chugged after my plate was cleaned. Bravo.

Unknown said...

Think I'll be skipping this recipe ;-)

Toshiko Suisei said...

Dad took us to Madrid on a space-a flight out of Ramstein AB one summer. It was probably my favorite trip of all the places he took us. Though we had some really fabulous meals while there, I was in my early teens and the one meal (snack) that stands out in my memory is the chocos fritos we purchased from a street vendor. They were served up in a cone of paper like french fries at the state fair. The vendor said it was octopus, but maybe they were strips of cuttlefish, idk. They were coated in a sort of tempura-like batter and briefly deep fried. Mmmm they were so good! Calamari rings you can get here in the states can be good, but those were better. Thanks for the memory!

Angela said...

Thanks for this recipe...and if I were in charge, you would win the James Beard award!

Unknown said...

C. J. I think you are a great chef and cooking guru. I have learned a lot from you. For that I thank you. But personally, squid or octopus is a no go for me. Though, I am sure sailors of old ate it or whatever they could bring over the side to supplement their salted beef and sea biscuit diet. But, keep up the good work man, Your blog is the best. Glad YOU like it, anyway. I am a land-lubber. I admire them sailors though. Arrr!

rodentraiser said...

I guess I'm one of those people. I love you , Chef John, but even if you made that look and taste like chocolate, I couldn't eat it. It looks too much like a rat's tail to me. EAT the suction cups?!? *thud*

Drew said...

I believe the trick is to gently hook it upon a fishing line and swing it about the head several times (the more the better), and for the finishing touch, you need to slap it across the face of its natural prey. There's something about this method that just works, and I'm sure if you try this before preparing it at your next major shindig, you'll at least end up with a pretty fun story to tell.

Bill said...

The only trick I've heard is to do it in a pressure cooker.
Obviously, that would make the "ol' polka-polka" difficult.

Unknown said...

I happened to have bought some beautiful octopus the day before you put this recipe on the site, so I figured it was meant to be. I'm not quite certain about the nationality of my octopus, as I live in France, but this dish turned out beautifully. I typically simmer octopus for at least an hour or two to achieve perfect tenderness and then toss them on the grill briefly, but this was a great alternative. Thank you for this and your other awesome recipes!

rashep142 said...

Chef John, I haven't seen a new recipe in over a week and I don't see a notice that you are on vacation. I hope that you are ok. You are missed

Brenda said...

John, I love 95% of your recipes and vids, but this one made me want to gag. I love fried squid. Dunno where you have been all this week, but I hope you had fun.

BK Nicholas said...

Where have you disappeared to Chef John? I've been missing you. It's not like you to go Dark so suddenly. I hope you are OK.
Barry Nicholas

Unknown said...

Fresh octopus is so sweet. My dad used to go catch octopus. I, though, didn't enjoy the sound they made when my mom was boiling them. Hope you can have fresh live octopus someday!

Whiteleather said...

Chef J,

Don't see an option to add new topic to your site, or to message you directly.

I am in Geneva, NY....yes...THAT the one right next to where WikiPedia says you were born.

Lots of food stuff here in the last 52 years. Google: Finger Lakes Wine (Billsboro specifically), and Kindred Fare, and FLX Table, and Linden Street, and the GreatChickenWingHunt and Real Eats, just to get you started. Much more than that: Distilleries, Breweries, some 60 wineries: All winning local, state and national recognition.

Frankly all those institutions, whom I visit, pale in comparison to the service you offer.

If you ever come local paper would like to interview you in a sort of "FingerLakes Cuisine covers the country Coast to Coast" article.

Kris Whiteleather (

Whiteleather said...

@Brenda: This one made you gag!!?? Had the same dish at Mateo in Raleigh, NC. Cost me over $15 for only 1/3 the meat. The recipe was fine....but the restaurant price did make me gag a bit.

Still, was very tasty. I am planning to make it here this week.

Unknown said...

Kris, you are a brave soul! I am glad John is back, so I don't have to even look at picture, back to lipsmacking grub now. Lol

JohnnyBee said...

This looks delicious and I recently had octopus for the first time and was blown away by the flavor. I really want to try it, but I have no idea where to get frozen uncooked octopus. Any suggestions?


JD said...

FYI, a "spanish onion" is a red onion - not a white or yellow or brown onion. Otherwise, great video.