Boiled Octopus  

Polpo 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 hubbub.
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 city. 

 

                                           Boiled Polpo

 

 

  Serves 4  

INGREDIENTS 

·        4 lbs polpo, defrosted, cleaned and washed 

·        1 lemon 

·        3 bay leaves 

 

   

PREPARATION  

Tenderize the polpo by pounding it with a meat mallet, wash the tentacles and the head with salt and rinse in abundant water. 

  

 The Polpo 

  

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 flame. 

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.

                                              La Vucciria