Most of the population lives on the coast and that’s only a sliver of the province. Salmon is the definitive iconic west coast ingredient. It’s all about salmon: sockeye, pink, chum, Coho, Chinook, steelhead, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. The style of cooking in the Pacific Northwest usually involves smoking or grilling with cedar, but there is also candied salmon and salmon jerky. Traditional dishes range from steamed clams, and fish and chips, to highlighting seasonal varieties like spot prawn. Fish and seafood proliferate the menus: big beach oysters, Dungeness crab, Qualicum Bay scallops, Manila clams, steaming scallops, urchins and Albacore tuna. Seaweed is also gaining popularity with chefs.
Pacific Northwest cuisine also factors in the Pacific Rim. There are large Asian and Indian influences with respect to ingredients and aesthetics. (The original “Chinese buffet” was established in Vancouver.) “We have the creative freedom to incorporate international influences, and still identify it as Canadian cuisine, because they’re all part of our culture,” shares Chef Warren Barr (Wickaninnish Inn). He tells me that the main ingredients are the ideals they have.
His “surf ‘n’ turf, connecting land and sea, is a steelhead salmon poached in hemlock oil with chanterelles in a broth of beets and blackberries. Foraging along the coast and in the forest provides salmon berries, thimbleberries, and evergreen huckleberries. BC fruits are robust, and there is a bounty of vegetables. BC’s wine industry in the Okanagan Valley produces high quality fruit-forward wines that are second to none. Vancouver restaurants are conscious of sustainability, Native and Asian influences, and maintain a vibrant and eclectic cocktail culture.
- Canadian Cuisine: Newfoundland
- Canadian Cuisine: Nova Scotia
- Canadian Cuisine: Prince Edward Island
- Canadian Cuisine: New Brunswick
- Canadian Cuisine: Quebec
- Canadian Cuisine: Ontario
- Canadian Cuisine: Manitoba
- Canadian Cuisine: Saskatchewan
- Canadian Cuisine: Alberta
- Canadian Cuisine: Yukon
- Canadian Cuisine: Northwest Territories
- Canadian Cuisine: Nunavut
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.