Bollito - Purpu Vugghiutu
Piazza Caracciolo is the center of the famous open market of
Palermo: La Vucciria.
Vucciria means butcher shop from the
French boucherie, but because of the continuous yelling and screaming of the vendors calling attention to their
products there is such a pandemonium that Vucciria became synonymous of
The sweetest polpo is offered at la Vucciria,
where traditionally the polpo is battuto (beaten against a marble counter to tenderize it) and then cooked in
boiling water without salt until it is so tender that it melts in your mouth.
As you get near the stand that sells polpo, the typical smell of the boiling octopus
and the voice of the vendor yelling “u purpu cavuru” (to advertise the hot polpo), fills the air. When you are in
front of the counter as the fishmonger starts to cut the polpo, he usually offers a small sample to tempt you to
buy it and then presents it in a dish with lemon wedges and salt.
Besides la Vucciria, you can order polpo in many restaurants, but the best is sold in the outside kiosks near the
Marina at La Villa a Mare, in the summer resort of Mondello and in other famous open markets throughout the
· 4 lbs polpo, defrosted, cleaned and washed
· 1 lemon
· 3 bay leaves
Tenderize the polpo by pounding it
with a meat mallet, wash the tentacles and the head with salt and rinse in abundant water.
In a large pot, boil 4 gallons of water. Add lemon cut in half
and bay leaves. Using a pot fork, immerge and reemerge each polpo three times and then, let it cook over a high
When the water starts to boil again, cook it for 15
minutes shut off the flame and cover. Keep it in the hot water for an additional 15 minutes.
Taste for tenderness, if it is not done, keep it in the hot water for another 5 minutes.
Using a pot fork transfer polpo to a serving dish, cut it into pieces and serve "al naturale"- as is-, or offer
salt and lemon wedges on the side.