Traditional Spanish Octopus Salad

Octopus salad
Octopus salad, ensalada de pulpo, is a traditional Spanish tapas dish.

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.

¡Buen provecho!

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Traditional Spanish Octopus Salad
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