Happy Canada Day!
I recently asked a handful of Western Canadian Chefs: “What is your ultimate Canadian ingredient?” Here are their answers.
I love berries, berries and more berries. I’ll eat them all: saskatoons, strawberries, salmon berries, huckleberries, soapberries. I grew up picking saskatoons, soapberries and strawberries with my grandma and as an adult discovered the others. They signal summer and pies and time with family – what else is Canada Day about, really?
I hope you can find some of these Canadian flavours at your local grocery shops/backyards/ butchers/gardens and use them.
“Maple Syrup has both sweet or savoury applications and has a completely distinct flavour. Plus, nothing says Canada like tapping a tree in the middle of winter, and cooking down the maple sap into sugar and drinking maple rye,” Jonathan Chovancek, Executive Chef, Cafe Medina, Vancouver, B.C.
“Sablefish is Ocean Wise certified and sustainably harvested from the North Pacific Ocean. It is very versatile and perfect for roasting in high heat. At Boulevard, we prepare it with a gai lan flan, beech mushrooms, shallot, coconut rice and lemon grass vinaigrette,” Alex Chen, Executive Chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver B.C.
“Cranberry and juniper. Great sweet and savory applications and available country-wide!” Robin Wasicuna, Chef, Wiseguy Foods/Twin Pines Diner, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
“Smoked or candied salmon encompasses a piece of Canadian history as well as primitive cooking techniques. Another quintessentially Canadian staple would be wild rice, which has been cultivated in Canada for thousands of years,” David Gunawan, Chef/Owner, Farmer’s Apprentice/Royal Dinette
“My ultimate Canadian ingredient is Bison. We always try to use the whole animal so my favourite summer preparation is grilled bison heart with potato salad, pickled mushrooms and horseradish gremolata,” Blair Lebsack, RGE RD, Edmonton, AB
“Sockeye Salmon is part of Canadian history and renowned around the world. It’s extremely versatile — from barbecue to smoked to sushi — and quintessentially British Columbia, especially when caught off the coast of Quadra Island,” Dan Olson, Chef/Owner, Railtown Cafe and Railtown Catering.
“Wild mushrooms; chanterelles, morels, porcini and pine mushroom just to few name a few of my favourites. I love the meaty texture and great forest aroma. They are great grilled, pickled or roasted. Yum!” Brad Holmes, Olo, Victoria, B.C.
What’s your favourite Canadian ingredient? How do you prepare it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
PS I realize these are all dudes. I will be focusing more on lady chefs in the future…my bad.