The Galician style octopus, known in Galicia as “polbo á feira” is without a doubt one of the most popular dishes of Galician traditional cuisine. On your way to Santiago you’ll find countless places where to try it, as there’s no fair, celebration or popular romeria where this worldwide fame native product isn’t present.
To give you an idea of how important and popular is this cephalopod in Galicia, we’ll give you a few facts: every year 3,5 million kilos of octopus are sold at our fish markets for a value that exceeds 20 million euro. Besides, since August 2014 Galicia appears on the Guinness Book of Records for having served the biggest tapa of polbo á feira of the world: 24 professionals have chopped 430 kilos of octopus in a plate of 5,10 meter diameter. Nothing more and nothing less than that. The achievement took place in O Carballiño, a town in the Province of Ourense, where every August is held the oldest of those 11 gastronomic fairs devoted exclusively to the octopus existing in Galicia. Declared of Tourist Interest in 1969, it gets more than the trifling sum of 50.000 visitors every year.
O Carballiño is the octopus mecca in Galicia. You may be surprised to know that it’s not a coastal town, but the tradition and reality demonstrate that further inland is where you’ll eat more and better octopus. It’s confirmed in some inland villages you’ll find along the Camino such as Arzúa and Melide. As a matter of fact in this last town, that barely exceeds 7000 inhabitants, can be found an internationally renowned pulpería: Ezequiel. And it’s not the only one, as you’ll also find A Garnacha, Casa Alongos or Casa Curros that are highly recommendable options too to taste the famous polbo á feira.
This is how we call the traditional recipe, which respects the way the cephalopod was cooked (and is still cooked) in the fairs (feiras), hence its name. The dish consists of boiled octopus sliced into rounds, sprayed with plenty of olive oil and sprinkled with sweet and hot paprika and cooking salt. It is served on a wood plate and it is eaten with toothpicks, usually accompanied by boiled halved potatoes (also called cachelos) and red wine. Aside from the pleasure for the palate, the making of this dish is also a sight well worth seeing, since the octopus is boiled in big copper pot and fully removed with an iron hook before it is cut. The agility and speed of the “pulpeiras” chopping octopuses with scissors is remarkable.
Precisely because knowing the local gastronomy is not only to try the popular products, Galician Roots has developed various demonstrative workshops that will allow you to deepen in some typical dishes in an entertaining way: seafood, the empanada (Galician pie) and of course the “polbo á feira”. In this workshop you’ll get to know everything about the octopus, from the moment it’s caught until it’s served in the plate, and more importantly how to prepare it and how to cook it to reach the perfect consistency. This workshop includes tasting and recipes that will surprise you with the wide cooking possibilities offered by this cephalopod.
In fact, the octopus, is nowadays one of the flagship products of the new Galician cuisine and has made the leap into some of the best chefs kitchens and many restaurants thanks to renewed formulas. It’s becoming more and more common to cook and taste it together with Galician typical products such as turnip tops and cheese or another ingredients such as rice and beans. We are sure you’ll enjoy trying all these specialities but… do you fancy trying to cook it at home? Thinking about the daring ones Galician Roots has created a creative cuisine workshop, the best way to take a new path without a doubt. Find out more about all our gastronomy workshops at the following link:
Recipe prepared by Manuel Garea.