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Aug 19, 2010 09:32 PM

Looking for Puerto Rican Pulpo instructions

When I was living in Puerto Rico, I used to get some absolutely wonderful Pulpo at stand #69 on Luquillo Beach. It was chopped, mixed with onions, bell peppers, and probably stuff I don't remember, and marinated in some kind of lime juice-based marinade. This is the ONLY way I will eat pulpo. I was told it wasn't cooked at all, that the lime juice "cooked" the pulpo and made it tender. You could tell it was tentacles chopped up, not baby octopi.

Is anyone familiar with how to make this? I'd like to try it. It was in the 90's, I don't know if the stand is even still there after all this time.


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  1. On looking at this a bit further, my guess is the octopus HAD to be cooked, not raw. I'm thinking that (given the available space in these outdoor stands at the time), the guy was using pre-cooked octopus, and the people I talked to about how it was made just THOUGHT he was starting with raw octopus because they never saw him boiling big potsful of octopi bits and pieces.

    Anyway, anyone who has made this before (it's an octopus salad that's refrigerated and marinated before serving) I'd like to hear from you.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ZenSojourner

      Yes, pulpo is cooked until tender, sliced and marinated with lime juice, a hot chile, habanero or Scotch bonnet if you're daring, a few garlic cloves worked into a paste, red onion, yellow and red bell peppers, and a little minced fresh oregano or cilantro. Season with salt. You can skip the chile heat if you want, sez my Puerto Rican DH.

      The octopus is simmered until tender in a flavorful court boullion.

      You can also use sour orange juice, if you can get a sour orange, or combine oj, lemon and lime juice for a similar effect.

      You can use this marinade for conch, crab, shrimp and squid or a mix of all. ¬°Buen provecho!

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        How does this look:

        I'm more than a little afraid to try to find and cook a whole octopus! But this stuff was sooo good, and it's been so long since I had it. I used to get it every weekend when I took my son to the beach. I imagine the octopus will make it more than a little expensive to screw up.

        Does anyone know if you can buy the octopus already cooked, maybe in the freezer section of not-your-normal-grocery?

        1. re: ZenSojourner

          That's a good recipe, but I'd maybe skip the olives, unless you use acaparrado, mixed green olives and capers,not black. I didn't see any black olives in PR. The simpler, the better with this salad, you want the seafood flavor to shine through.

          I don't know what octopii go for where you are but they're pretty cheap here. Get frozen, if that's what's available, and follow the court bouillon directions on your link that'll give you nice flavor in the meat. Add some white wine if you are accustomed to cooking with it. Believe me, ocotopus are not hard to cook. The only way you can screw up the octopus is not to cook it until it's tender. Cooking an octopus properly is truly one of life's smaller challenges. Remember, simmer gently and check for tenderness. Forget about corks in the bouillon for tenderizing, that's for fun only, imo, or if you have surplus wine corks kicking around.

          You very well may be able to get cooked octopus at your local seafood place, but I don't know about finding frozen cooked octopus, that's beyond my expertise and I wouldn't have bought it cooked and frozen, anyway. I would buy fresh or frozen and cook it myself, but that's me.

          "afraid to try to find and cook a whole octopus"

          Do not fear this.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Seriously, the directions for cleaning the octopus talk about scrubbing off black stuff after you have cooked it for awhile, some process that sounds like skinning, and REMOVING THE EYES!

            I'm very unsure of the skinning and cleaning part - my copy of Joy of Cooking tells me how to skin and clean a squirrel (with pictures), but not an OCTOPUS, LOL!

            I totally agree about the olives and capers, firstly I hate olives and secondly I never had any pulpo with olives. As I recall it was pulpo, onions, garlic, and red and green bell peppers. And the tangy marinade based on lime juice. I don't remember anything else in there.


            Well I found an actual seafood market here and they do have frozen pre-cleaned octopus for like $7 a pound which, while not exactly cheap, at least has the advantage of being all meat, LOL!

            So I guess I'm slightly less nervous.

            1. re: ZenSojourner

              "As I recall it was pulpo, onions, garlic, and red and green bell peppers. And the tangy marinade based on lime juice. I don't remember anything else in there."

              And that was mostly likely all there was in the salad. The simpler, the better.

              Very likely the octopus you buy will be cleaned, beak and eyes removed, possibly headless, unless you get one right off the fishing dock. Ask your fishmonger to remove the head, if still attached, and you're buying it fresh. The black stuff is no big deal, and the thin skin will come off very easily after it's cooked. Truth be told, I'd much rather clean an octopus than a squrriel (laughing) although I have respect for both of those creatures, dead or alive. Actually, octopii are probably as smart as squrriels, maybe more so, and definitely better tasting, imo.

              Here's a link from a Mark Bittman article and although it doesn't address octopus cleaning per se, it's got some good tips for handling and octopus in general:


              1. re: ZenSojourner

                Got the update, very good news, go forth!! Let us know how it turns out. BTW, limes here now are 10 for $1.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  Yeah, here too. Wish I could get lemons that cheaply, I love fresh Lemonade.