Friday, June 12, 2009

For the Love of Fish: From Producer to Plate

Most of you know that I was in Vancouver (stuffing my face) last month, and over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of my favorite and most memorable experiences from my trip.

On Thursday, May 28th, hubby Kris and I attended "For The Love of Fish: From Producer to Plate", a guided tasting of eight local sustainable seafoods prepared by local chefs, hosted by Slow Food Vancouver and SeaChoice at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver.

The star line-up included world renowned chef
Hidekazu Tojo, famous for inventing the California roll, Chef Robert Clark of C Restaurant, local champion of sustainable seafood, and Chef Andrea Carlson, executive chef of Bishop's Restaurant, a Vancouver institution featuring award-winning regional cuisine.

Featured producers and fishermen, including my spot prawn buddy
Steve Johansen from Organic Ocean, were there to showcase their sustainable seafood and answer questions. Only 100 seats were available for $50 per ticket ($35 for Slow Food members), a bargain price to taste the seafood creations of local celebrity chefs (and a lot cheaper than fine dining at Tojo's, Bishop's, or C Restaurant).

I know most of you are probably here to gawk at the food, but I've also thrown in some sustainable seafood facts and interesting tidbits I learned from attending this 3 hour event.

The tasting was accompanied by a bread basket from the Bread Affair, artisanal cheeses from Mt. Pleasant Cheese Company, and wine from Farmstead Wines:

ALBACORE TUNA, spice encrusted and lightly seared, chilled and served with smoked salt, Pemberton beet salad, and horseradish dressing (from Natural Gift Seafoods, as prepared by Chef Peter Berg, and plated by Chef Quang Dang of C Restaurant):
BC albacore tuna is not only sustainable (trolling results in very little by-catch), it's deliciously rich and buttery, and so highly regarded that most of the commerical catch is shipped to Japan as sashimi grade tuna.

PACIFIC SARDINES, lightly seared and pickled, pumpernickel bread, sour cream, cilantro and cucumber (from Seaside Marketing, as prepared by Chef Colman Herrington, A Plus Catering): Sardines are very nutritious, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and low in mercury and other contaminants. They
disappeared completely from British Columbia waters in the 1940s and mysteriously reappeared 50 years later in the early 1990s. Overcooking oily fish like sardines will result in fishiness!

SABLEFISH COLLAR aka SABLEENE, marinated in sweet vermouth, served with edamame daikon salad (from Seaside Marketing, as prepared by Chef Clement Chan, Mosaic Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Vancouver):

Sablefish is also known as black cod. Before sableenes became fashionable, they were thrown overboard by fisherman or ground into fishmeal for fertilizer! Sustainable seafood is all about using every part of the fish, and these tasty little morsels are starting to pop up on local menus.

KUSSHI OYSTER, shallot wine mignonette, brunoise of organic apples with cider vinegar (from Stellar Bay Shellfish, as prepared by Chef Matthew Davies, Provence Marinaside Grill): Off-bottom oyster farms have little impact on the environment. This clean tasting
kuushi was also Kris' first raw oyster! And he liked it!

COHO SALMON, marinated in brown sugar, with watercress salad (from Swift Aquaculture, as prepared by Chef Robert Clark, C Restaurant):

Most Atlantic salmon is farmed using open-net pens in the ocean, a method known for it's devastating impact on wild salmon populations. Swift Aquaculture's coho salmon is farmed in an environmentally responsible closed tank system, and it's really delicious too!

DUNGENESS CRAB, fried crispy dungeness crab avocado roll (from Seafood 4 Life, as prepared by Chef Hidekazu Tojo from Tojo’s Restaurant):

DUNGENESS CRAB, raw scallop, raw salmon, wrapped in egg crepe, topped with roe: Unique to the Westcoast, sweet Dungeness crabs are caught using baited traps, resulting in low by-catch. I have to admit that I get starstruck easily, so I was most excited to try these sushi rolls prepared by the famous Hidekazu Tojo! And they were absolutely delicious. Raw fish novice Kris was on a roll that night (pun intended), eating raw salmon, scallop, spot prawn, and oyster! YAY Kris!

SPOT PRAWNS, on kombu with pea shoot salad and tomato jelly (from Organic Ocean, as prepared by Chef Julian Bond, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts):

Named for the 4 distinctive white spots on their shells, sustainable wild BC spot prawns are highly prized for their sweetness and firm textured flesh. But you already knew that if you've read my recent post about Vancouver's Annual Spot Prawn Festival and my interview with producer Steve Johansen.

PACIFIC SCALLOPS, cured with fennel, salt and sugar, citrus brine, with sweet sicily pod, shaved fennel and rhubarb (from Edge Water Foods, as prepared by Chef Andrea Carlson, Bishop’s Restaurant):

My favorite dish of the night, scallop was super sweet and juicy! Off-bottom farming of BC scallops doesn't hurt the sea floor like dredging (on-bottom farming).

Do you love fish and seafood? Are you worried about our oceans? You can make a difference by choosing sustainable seafoods:
USA - Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch for all US Regions

Canada's Seafood Guide



KennyT said...

Hi Phyllis, I swear to God, I will never read your blog before I have eaten anything, now I'm starving at work!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Everything looks so pretty! Guess there is some fun stuff to do in canada after all ;). Looks like a wonderful event.

Jackie said...

It seemed like a lot of fun. Love to follow your culinary adventures.

Jenn said...

Look at all the fresh seafood. They all looks so good right now. I second what Kenny said except I'm not at work. =)

Anonymous said...

What a fun event and all the seafood looks so wonderful! I would especially love to try that sablefish and the dungeness crab!

Phyllis said...

Kenny: Just getting you back for all the times you've made me hungry for HK food! :)

Heavenly Housewife: Yes, everything looked very pretty but you should have seen the look on Kris' face when he noticed most of the seafood was barely cooked or raw! He was a champ though. And LOL - there's more than just igloos and moose in Canada. Just you wait, there's more exciting stuff to come.

Jackie: I was a little nervous when I got there and saw the event was set up like a seminar with long tables etc. I tend to fall asleep in speaking events like that. Luckily, all the gorgeous fresh seafood kept me awake! And it was cool to meet the producers and chefs.

Jenn: You really can't beat seafood fresh off the boat! I guess I've done my job if I've made you hungry!

5 Star Foodie: Sablefish collar is a relatively new thing. It's in the throat of the sablefish(black cod) and normally cutout with the head and thrown away. The little morsel is dug out of the cartilage in the neck - skinless, boneless, firm and carmelizes nicely. I was really excited to try sableenes for the first time. Dungeness Crab - I only usually see this on the Westcoast but I hope you get to try it one day - so sweet and delicious.

mira said...

wow.. this is great.. but malaysians dont really eat fish this way.. u shud know this very well.. haha,we eat fish to the bones.. to the eyes.. to everything! haha. never had a nice plate of fish like the ones u posted.. the closest is maybe.. fillet.. haha.. fish n chips.. thats it.. but from the pictures, they're sure yummylicious!

Tangled Noodle said...

You haven't even reconciled myself to not getting spot prawns anytime soon and you throw even more incredible seafood my way! I'm heading to BC . . .

Phyllis said...

Tangled Noodle: I'll meet you there!

oysterCulture said...

I'm late to this one but to follow on KennyT's comment there ought to be a warning if you have not eaten ahead of time - wow the photos and descriptions were incredible, but I also appreciated the sustainable information - thanks for sharing!

Phyllis said...

OysterCulture: Haha, thanks...better late than never! Your sustainability post was awesome!