Octopus Salad, or ensalada de pulpo or in Málaga area pipirrana con pulpo, is a typical Spanish tapas. Actually pipirrana is the salad and you can find it in tapas bars combined with mussels, shrimps and, of course, octopus.
We had a half of whole octopus in our freezer from previous cooking. Fresh octopus actually gets more tender if it’s frozen first and then defrozen before cooking it. There are many ways to make octopus tender, but this is by far the easiest way to do it. Some people massage the tentacles with an empty wine bottle to make it tender. Another trick is to put some citrus fruits in the boiling water and the most important of all – a wine bottle cork! I’ve no idea what it does, but Spaniards always cook their octopus with a wine bottle cork. Go figure.
Ingredients for Spanish Octopus Salad for 4 Servings
1/2 medium size octopus – medio de pulpo
1 lemon – limón
a pinch of sea salt – sal marina
a pinch of spicy Spanish smoked paprika – pimentón picante
1 red bell paprika – pimiento rojo
1 green paprika – pimiento italiano
1 onion – cebolla
3 tomatoes – tomates
a punch of coriander – cilantro
2 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
1 lime – lima
1 dl (1/2 cup) of extra virgin olive oil – aceite olive virgen extra
1/3 dl (1/6 cup) of Jerez vinegar – vinagre de Jerez
First prepare the octopus. Tenderize it by freezing or massaging. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add the lemon cut in half. Dip the octopus first into the boiling water for 5 seconds and raise in the air. Repeat this 3-4 times until the tentacles are curvy and place it in the boiling water. Let the octopus cook for 35-45 minutes. If you have any citrus fruit leftovers, you can place them in the cooking water as well (we had some pineapple skins from the breakfast). And don’t forget the cork! Use a fork to test when the octopus is tender. When done, place it on a cutting board to cool while preparing the salad.
Chop the vegetables into 1 cm (1/2″) cubes. Finely chop garlic and coriander and combine all ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lime and combine with olive oil and vinegar. If you don’t have Jerez vinegar, you can replace it with red or white wine vinegar. Add the oil mixture into the salad and season with sea salt to taste.
Chop the octopus into 1/2 cm (1/4″) slices and season with salt and smoked paprika. Combine with the salad and enjoy with white wine or dry sherry, Manzanilla.
Spanish Omelette, tortilla, is traditional tapas dish which is always available in all bars in Spain. It’s also very easy to make. One very popular way of altering the original recipe is to add spinach leaves into it. Sometimes you can find a version with chorizo sausage slices mixed in. But this is the basic recipe without anything fancy. Even ground black pepper is considered as an extra ingredient for the traditional recipe, but we feel that it brings a good flavor to it.
Ingredients for Spanish Omelette for 4 Servings
2 big potatoes – patatas grandes
1 large onion – cebolla grande
3 eggs – huevos
2 dl (1 cup) of olive oil – aceite oliva
a pinch of sea salt – sal marina
a pinch of ground black pepper – pimienta negra
Cut the potatoes and onions into small slices. Heat the oil on high heat until ready for frying, about 160 ºC (320 ºF). You can toss in a slice of onion into the oil and when it begins to bubble, the oil is ready for frying. Carefully pour in the potatoes and onions and let them simmer in the oil until the potatoes are fully cooked. It doesn’t matter if they break a bit while cooking, but don’t make mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl which is large enough to hold the entire mixture with potatoes and onions, too. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Use skimmer scoop to drain excess oil from the potatoes and onions and toss them on top of the eggs. Mix well. Drain all excess oil from the pan and pour the potato mixture back into the pan.
Fry on both sides for about 2-5 minutes depending how thick the tortilla is. Remember, the potatoes and onions are already cooked. All you need to do now is to fry the egg mixture for a firm structure. Use a plate or a lid to flip the omelette upside down back to the pan.
Last summer we made a huge road trip all across the Europe and visited the Basque Country as well. A city called San Sebastian is one of the most culinary places in the world containing several Michelin star restaurants in addition to thousands of tapas bars. And we enjoyed what the city had to offer. Small alleys are packed with tapas bars full of fresh pintxos, red wine and local beer. What more can you wish?
After returning back home we made these pintxos and thought back our wonderful 5500 km (3500 mi) journey. The pintxos are easy to make and taste like heaven! They bring you straight to the alleys of San Sebastian!
Ingredients for Bonito Mousse Pinxtos with Smoked Salmon
1 can of bonito or tuna – lata de bonito
2 tablespoons of cream cheese – queso Philadephia
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise –mayonesa
sea salt – sal marina
ground black pepper – pimienta negra
2 shallots – chalotes
spring onions – cebolletas
2 teaspoons of red peppers grounded – pimiento rojo
quail eggs – huevos de codorniz
cold smoked salmon – salmón ahumado
black caviar – caviar negra
green olives – aceitunas
freshly baked baquette – baquette
Drain excess oil from the bonito (or tuna). Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, bonito and chopped shallots to make the mousse. Season with sea salt and peppers.
Bring the water into boil and boil the eggs for about 3 minutes. Replace the boiling water with cold one and let them rest for few minutes.
The the cream cheese mousse on the breads. Serve half of the batch with cold smoked salmon, caviar and quail eggs and half with olives and spring onions.