When in Spain say – Pulpo con aioli!

When I think of four ingredients that epitomise Spanish cuisine I cannot not go past the humble pulpo (octopus), roasted red peppers, smoked sweet paprika and aioli.


I discovered you can have all four on a plate, when you combine the ingredients, the flavours will leave your taste buds in the glistening shores of Galicia, Barcelonetta or even up north where the Basque declare themselves the kings of  Spanish cuisine, and who would argue with them.


This recipe will require you to source a good size octopus, just over 1.2kg will do. Ask your fishmonger to remove the innards from the head as this will save you time that is best spent on cooking this majestic dish.

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 1.4kg octopus
  • 1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 2.5 l water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 red radish, finely sliced
  • 5 parsley leaves

Recipe for Aioli

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 200 g roasted red peppers (from a jar)
  • 180 ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt



In a cast iron pot add 80 ml of olive oil, onions, lemon, bay leaves and garlic. Constantly stir all your ingredients until they are soft and brown. Add your paprika, stir for  about 30 seconds and pour your wine, make sure to deglaze your pan well by scraping the bottom with your wooden spoon. Add the water, bring to the boil, stir all your ingredients, gently dunk your octopus for 20 seconds, remove and allow the water to come to the boil again. Repeat the dunking 4 times, after the last dunk leave the octopus in the pot under a very gentle simmer for  about 20 minutes.

Remove the octopus, leave it to cool then cut all its tentacles, add  40 ml of olive oil to a pan, sear your octopus tentacles on all sides and sprinkle the salt. This will give your octopus a crispy texture on the outside with a soft bite in the inside.

In a mortar and pestle pound your garlic, salt and peppers until it all becomes a paste. Add your egg yolk and with a swift swirling motion stir all your ingredients, at the same time slowly pour the oil, sooner than you know it, it will all begin to thicken, your aioli is ready.

Spread your aioli on a plate, place your octopus over the aioli, and for garnish add the radish slices and parsley leaves. Make sure to drizzle some olive oil over the plate, now sit back  and enjoy your well earned Pulpo con Aioli.  This dish goes really well with a White Grenache from Priorat, Spain or a Torrontes from  the Salta region, Argentina.




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