Ottawa is a much smaller city than Toronto. In some cases that means you can actually do more.
I miss the easy walks to the distinct neighbourhoods of my hometown’s downtown core. Yes, Toronto has all of these ‘hoods and more, but they’re more spaced out.
In particular, I miss the ethnic grocery stores. Back home I could stroll down Somerset Street and hit Kowloon, Little Latin America, Nasa and Luciano’s. That’s a straight line from China to Mexico to India to Italy. I would be all up and down the Bloor Line and the Yonge Line and the streetcars and the sidewalks to do that type of globetrotting in Toronto.
Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market amalgamates ethnic ingredients pretty well, but doesn’t have the same wallet-friendly prices I’m used to.
So imagine my delight when I discovered the T&T supermarket on the waterfront. It’s on Cherry Street, to be exact — right next to the dog beach. That’s just a hop-skip-jump from my place.
The fish counter is something to write home about. It’s as good as the St. Lawrence Market but cheaper by fives and tens. It’s where I picked up the octopus for this dish.
In the interest of keeping the cost of the dish down, I have steamed the octopus. Poaching in olive oil or court bouillon are also good options.
Octopus with Chorizo, Fingerlings and Salsa Verde
For the salsa verde:
*from Serious Eats
1 1/2 cups packed, roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup capers, drained
3 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 medium cloves garlic, ground to a paste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
salt and pepper
Blitz all ingredients in a blender immediately before serving.
For the rest of the dish:
tentacles of two octopuses
700 g fingerling potatoes
200 g mild Spanish chorizo, sliced into half circles
sprig of thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, for roasting
The tentacles may seem long and unwieldy, but do not slice them into smaller pieces. They shrink substantially when cooked. Sprinkle the tentacles with salt. Steam with the thyme for 2-3 hours. The octopus meat will initially get quite hard. When it’s done, it will become tender again. To test for doneness, pick up a tentacle and wiggle it. If it’s stiff, it isn’t done yet. If it’s jiggly like jello, then it’s done. Take care not to overcook the octopus, as it will become very dry.
Meanwhile, crisp up the chorizo. Set aside and reserve the rendered fat.
Preheat oven to 450F. Blanch the potatoes for approximately 5 minutes. Drain. Slice the large potatoes in half. Toss the potatoes with the chorizo fat and a drizzle of vegetable oil. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast on the lower shelf of the oven until golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes. Rub the octopus with some vegetable oil. Place it on the top rack of the oven. Roast until the octopus takes on some colour, about 10 minutes. You can also grill the octopus if you have access to a barbecue.
Gently heat up the chorizo slices. Toss with cooked potatoes. Plate the octopus on top of the potatoes and chorizo. Dot with salsa verde.