Archive for the ‘Local Food’ Category

Third Annual Spot Prawn Festival at Granville Island

Monday, May 4th, 2009
Spot Prawn by closari

Spot Prawn by closari

With the spot prawn fishing season for opening, May 8th it seems The Chefs’ Table Society has chosen to waste no time and is holding its third annual Spot Prawn Festival May 9th from 12pm-3pm. Preparing their special spot prawn dishes. This is a great opportunity to get some delicious ideas for preparing spot prawns and if the reports from last year are any indication the work that these chef’s do, is both beautiful and tasty.

The list of chefs participating this year includes: Warren Geraghty of West; John Bishop of Bishops; Francois Gagnon of Cin Cin; Don Dickson of South China Seas; Rob Feenie of Cactus Club; Dino Rinearts of Diva at the Met; Jean-Francis & Alessandra Quaglia of Provence Restaurants; Nico Scheurmans of Chambar; and Alana Peckham from Cru.

This year they are doing things a little bit differently and will be having cooking demonstrations at Granville Island at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on May 9th, 10th and 16th. Extending the festivities to branch clear into the following weekend. This is a great opportunity to get familiar with cooking this local and sustainable seafood!

Not only that but Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery, as the official wine sponsor of the BC Spot Prawn Festival, will donate 50 cents of each bottle of wine sold at partner restaurants during the Spot Prawn season to support the Chefs Table Society and the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Program. Which is a great excuse not only to eat great prawns but also to enjoy some local wine! Hallelujah, what a combination!

Alas if only the stars aligned I would be there! Eat some prawns and snap some pictures for me if you’re there!

Prawns – A West Coast 100 Mile Diet Ingredient

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The 100-Mile Diet was a great experiment started by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, it’s amazing the uptake and excitement that this book and idea has caused. In a nutshell, the 100-Mile Diet is commitment to eat food that comes from within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of where you live. It’s a great example of thinking globally and acting locally. A real world example of the personal changes that will be required to change the environmentally destructive path that we are currently traveling on. It’s amazing how much of our food travels thousands of miles to grace our dinner plates and equally amazing how much great food is available within 100 miles. In a world where marketing seems to matter more than distance, eating locally really is a counter culture thing to do. Globalization of our food system has not only meant that our food is traveling huge distances to get to us it has also meant that we have been disconnected from the food producers, which is a loss for all of us socially. Not only that, with the entire food infrastructure being built up around lower food costs the thing there seems to be less focus on creating great tasting, fresh and healthy eating experiences. The 100 mile diet brings many of these issues into focus.

100 Mile Radius Around Vancouver, BC

100 Mile Radius Around Vancouver, BC

The authors were living in Vancouver, BC and, if you look at their 100 mile radius, you can see that there is a LOT of ocean in that circle (if you’re interested to check out your 100 mile radius they’ve built a great tool to help you see what 100 miles from your home includes). As a consequence, being able to find local food from the sea became one of the protein sources for the original 100-mile diet. For them that meant haunting the local docks to see what seafood was becoming available and buying and preserving that food for the long winter ahead. You can read the adventures of the authors as they bought and cooked up a batch of fresh prawns during their year of eating locally.

As a local food for people throughout the West Coast of Canada prawns can be one of their go-to seafoods. Prawns are caught up and down the coast, so there is very likely a fisher who is catching prawns nearby. And while prawns are delicious fresh they can also be easily frozen and preserved for weeks and even months with very little ill affect making them available to see as a local food throughout the winter. That said at the moment there are only a few fisherman who maintain a stock of frozen spot prawns through the winter so if you are interested in having local seafood through the winter your best bet is to stock up during the fishing season, or get in touch and we can source some frozen prawns from our network of fishers.

While spot prawns tend to be sent largely to the Japanese market, there is a great opportunity for people on the West Coast of Canada and Pacific North West of America to start enjoying prawns and have all the benefits of eating locally.

Ama Ebi – Spot Prawns Sushi Delicacy

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Ama Ebi – The Spot Prawn

One of the fascinating points about the prawn industry in BC is that as much as 90% of the prawns caught in BC are shipped to Japan and eaten in Japanese sushi restaurants. In Japan, spot prawn sushi is called “Ama Ebi (sometimes written Amaebi)“. Ama translated is “sweet” and Ebi is the Japanese word applied to a vareity of prawns and shrimp, so the name translated boils down to “The Sweet Shrimp”. Ama Ebi does not specify a specific species of prawn or shrimp so while BC spot prawns are generally used for Ama Ebi, you can’t be certain that you’ll be getting spot prawns when you order Ama Ebi unless you ask. That said, Ama Ebi is the primary reason that the spot prawn market is strong in Japan. The firm texture, sweet flavor and clean deep water habitat of BC spot prawns makes them a great choice for Ama Ebi. Not only that, but because they have a relatively short lifespan, less than 4 years, there is little opportunity for the build up Moneygram online of heavy metals in the meat as there is in other seafood.

Ama Ebi by <a href=

Ama Ebi by by takaokun

Sustainable Sushi had this to say about the BC spot prawn:

“British Columbia spot prawns, known to be well-managed and caught with environmentally responsible traps, are an excellent option. They are commonly used in ama ebi dishes in the United States and are the best choice for sushi-going shrimp afficionados.”

Ama Ebi – The Sushi

The prawn/shrimp is served nigiri style, which means that the head and shell are removed, the meat is partially cut down the middle, the central vein is removed and the meat is laid across a small oblong portion of sushi rice. The prawn meat should be translucent.

The prawn head is deep fried and served with the prawn meat and sushi rice. As it is nigiri, the prawns should be served in pairs. The deep fried prawn head can be eaten shell and all, though, as you would imagine, it does require a fair bit of care.

BC Spot Prawn Named Ingredient of the Year

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Vancouver Magazine did a great write up on spot prawns in their May Issue this year they’ve gone so far as to award the spot prawn as their ingredient of the year.  Quite an honor for the spot prawn and those that fish them.  Introducing the spot prawn as the ingredient of the year Andrew Morrison, setup the two logical alternatives, the farmed tiger prawn and the spot prawn.  I’d just like to pick up one of the threads that Andrew started to pursue.

“The strongest argument against them [farmed tiger prawns] is that we have always had a superior alternative sourced by fishermen right here at home.”

Local food is important.  Knowing the people and techniques that are used to grow our food is important.  The age old phrase “you are what you eat” is proving to be very true and very important to our personal health.  Localness also speaks to the sustainability of the food.  Fisherman in BC have a vested interest in seeing the fishery continue, and continue at similar volumes.  And it is abundantly clear that the only way to maintain the fishery is to balance the need for fisherman to make a living with the need for prawns to have time to reproduce and replenish their numbers.

The Localness of spot prawns in the North America also means that if at any point you’re concerned about the fishery and its environmental practises you can just immediately talk to someone.  In Canada the spot prawn fishery is regulated by the Canadian Federal Government Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) (Note: you’ll have to get a DFO Extranet login to access this page). If you’re interested to see the details of the regulation of the fishery you can get have an open view of the legalities that fisherman must comply with.

And if you ever want to know exactly what is going on out on the fishing grounds it is relatively easy to go down to strike up a conversation with one of the fisherman on the most any wharf on the Pacific Coast.  Cultivating a relationship with the fisherman also gives you an opportunity to buy the biggest or freshest prawns that he has to offer.

Spot prawns are a food that you can feel unabashedly good about eating, because you CAN know the people and processes involved in producing the food.  Not only that, it is relatively easy to have an ongoing relationship with the fisherman and enjoy the best of their catch.