I’ve received a lot of positive comments about the photography featured on my blog. Those who know me know that the food blog had been a dream of mine for years, but the overwhelming task of building a website from the ground up, and especially the photography, always stood in my way. That is, until I met Rob. Well, today is Rob’s birthday, and I thought it was about time I dedicate a post (and a dish) to the man behind the camera at Three Little Figs. To skip straight to the recipe for Rob’s fave food, (octopus!), click here
So who is the man behind the camera anyways? Well, besides being a fellow Torontonian and Queen’s University grad, a brilliant doctor-in-training, and a complete Blue Jays fanatic, he’s a really talented photographer. Annnnnd he conveniently loves to eat my food. He encouraged me to start creating dishes and writing content, and guided me with the photography (which I desperately needed!). What started out as an independent project soon flourished into… not that. After several (very) late night, stone cold meals and a few evenings where I came close to unravelling as I zoomed around the kitchen cooking, photographing, and writing, I finally accepted the help I inevitably needed and we started to develop a system. While I create the dishes in the kitchen, Rob brings them to life on camera. We’ve worked out most of the kinks, and manage to eat most of our meals while they are still kind of warm. He didn’t sign up for this, but damn, is he ever good at it. Three Little Figs would be nothing without its cooler, calmer, and more collected other half… and lucky me, I just happen to get to date him!
To celebrate his birthday, I’m making Rob his favourite dish, octopus. You know when a couple has a really cheesy “song” ? Well, this dish is like “our song,” except it’s edible. We first tried octopus at Toronto’s Bar Raval a few years ago and became totally obsessed with it. Ever since then, we’ve been on a mission to find the best dish we can, ordering it on almost every menu where we find it. This recipe is a culmination of the best octopus dishes we’ve tried, drawing on inspiration from each and resulting in what I think is the ultimate, absolute best of the best octopus dish around town. For Rob’s birthday, I’m cookin’ up some red-wine braised octopus finished on the grill and topped with crispy chorizo, lemon, and paprika.
Grilled Octopus with Chorizo
This octopus is first braised in a red wine sauce, and finished on the grill. It is topped with crispy chorizo, lemon, and paprika.
- 1 Ib octopus tentacles
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper corns
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
For the chorizo sauce
- 150 g chorizo sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 shallots, diced
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1 lemon
For the spinach
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 4 cups spinach
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
If frozen, defrost the octopus overnight in the fridge. Before cooking, rinse the octopus. Combine the water, red wine, onion, garlic, 1/2 lemon (the whole thing, not just the juice), salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary in a medium sized pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. With tongs, grab one tentacle from the thick end and submerge it in the simmering liquid. Remove it, and dunk it 2 more times, leaving the tentacle in the liquid on the third dunk. Repeat with the rest of the tentacles.* Cook with the lid on for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the octopus is very tender (use the sharp end of a knife to pierce the octopus and check). Take the pot off the heat, remove the lid, and allow the octopus to sit for ten minutes in the liquid. Place the cooked tentacles on a paper towel, and using more paper towel, gently wipe off the remaining skin.**
In the meantime, prepare the chorizo sauce. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the rounds of chorizo sausage and cook until they start to crisp, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the shallots. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and translucent. Season the sauce with and pinch of salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Remove from the heat until the octopus is ready, and then reheat and add the lemon juice just as the octopus is finishing.
In a separate pan, sautee the garlic in the butter and olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper just before serving.
Preheat the grill to high, and ensure the grill is clean and well oiled. Brush the tentacles well with olive oil, and then place them over the grill until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes per side. Place the spinach down first on the plate. Toss the grilled octopus gently in the chorizo sauce in the pan, and then pour the whole thing over the spinach onto the plate. Serve with lemon wedges and a dusting of paprika. Enjoy!
*Dunking the octopus in the simmering liquid three times ensures that they will curl up, which makes for a great presentation.
**Don't worry about getting the skin off the suckers. If you rub these, they may fall off. Just try to get the skin off the main part of the tentacle.