Last year I had the pleasure of tucking into a sustainable seafood feast with the renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki at a white-linened table at the Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar in Vancouver’s Yaletown. Before long our waitress was sounding off the parade of creatures and creations on the icy three-tiered dinner before us. “Here we have jellyfish salad and a two-pound Dungeness crab,” she began. “This is a sockeye salmon roll, there are prawns with cocktail sauce, here is albacore tuna, this is some lovely sea urchin and we also have a bay scallop ceviche – local scallops done with a bit of pink grapefruit.” She took a deep breath and continued to point out the Kusshi oysters in the middle and Fanny Bay oysters below. The halibut tataki and some lovely honey mussels.
But once a year the Blue Water Café’s executive chef Frank Pabst takes sustainable dining a step further, by creating a special Unsung Heroes menu. This year it runs for the month of January.
A champion of B.C.'s coastal fisheries, chef Pabst created the Unsung Heroes six years ago, the concept? “Avoid species that are over-fished, or fished in ways that damage ocean beds or cause unnecessary by-catch, by introducing diners to new experiences and flavours using species found in abundance.” Ten percent of the Unsung Heroes menu proceeds will be donated to the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise sustainable seafood program of which Blue Water Cafe is a founding member.
Here’s what’s on the menu. Let me know if anything is particularly good and I’ll try it when I’m back in Vancouver for the Olympics next month.
Red Sea Urchin: taglierini with red sea urchin sauce and broccoli flowers
Herring Roe: kombu seaweed, bonito flakes, dashi, soy
Mackerel: beetroot, walnuts and golden raisins, aged balsamic vinegar
Octopus: ceviche with avocado, cilantro, lime and jalapeno, bell pepper salad
Humboldt Squid: braised in tomato red wine sauce with potatoes, black olives and parsley
Sardine: stuffed with green chard, artichokes and pine nuts, garlic citrus caramel
Mirugai Ubuki: geoduck sashimi with tama miso sauce
Herring: smoked with pickled honeycrisp apples, coleslaw, cucumber aquavit sauce
Sea Cucumber: stir-fry with fresh vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and hoisin sauce
Jellyfish: marinated with sesame oil and togarashi, cucumber daikon salad
Periwinkles: cooked in a court bouillon, served with aioli
Wakame: seaweed salad with leeks and radishes, soy, dijon and olive oil dressing