Introduction to Octopus  

(“Polpo” - "Purpu") 



Introduction to Octopus   

Polpo - Purpu 



Piazza Caracciolo is the center of the famous open market of Palermo:La Vucciria.
Vucciriameans butchershop, 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 Vucciriabecame synonymous with hubbub.

The sweetest polpo can be found alla 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 at 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. 

Polpo in America is available frozen in fish stores. 

One of the best polpo is imported from Portugal. The medium size (weighting about 1 ½ lbs) are younger and more tender and are the most desirable. 

The polpo is all edible except for the mouth, eyes and stomach, and it usually comes ready to cook. Tenderize the polpo by pounding it with a meat mallet, wash the tentacles and the head with salt and rinse in an abundance of water. 

Octopus can be boiled, sautéed, or murato (simmered in tomato, herbs and spices in a sealed earthenware). As an appetizer, it is dressed with olive oil and lemon or sautéed in garlic and oil; it can be served as a main dish, called polpo murato (walled up) or, alternatively, served boiled with lemon a few hours after dinner as the best and most original conclusion to a holiday feast! 


The recipes: 

 Polpo Boiled 

Polpo Salad 

Polpo Fritto