The Pacific Northwest and more specifically British Columbia are synonymous with nature, healthy living and healthy eating. Our friends from A Cook Not Mad dish the goods on their Top 4 favourite BC foods, and why you need to try for yourself:
In spring and summer, British Columbia turns into a paradise of beautiful mossy trees, loads of trails to hike, beaches to visit and wildlife to see. It is a wonderful place to explore and discover and a delicious place to eat your way through; it is in that spirit that we share our 4 favourite BC foods, all fresh from the sea to your table.
1. Spot Prawns
The season is short, it lasts around 6 to 8 weeks, but during this time inhabitants and visitors gorge on this sweet and versatile crustacean. A great way to learn more about spot prawns, and taste them in various dishes, is by attending a spot prawn festival. There are several to choose from, in Vancouver the 7th Annual BC Spot Prawn Festival was held on May 5th in False Creek and kicked off the season (which opened May 9th, 2013).
Or drop by the Fisherman’s Wharf, southwest of the Granville Island Public Market around 2pm each day during the entirety of the season to buy fresh, live spot prawns. If you find yourself on Vancouver Island, there is also the Cowichan Spot Prawn Festival.
2. Dungeness Crab
Although they have recently been found in the Atlantic Ocean, Dungeness crab are native to the Pacific. Named after the town of Dungeness, Washington, they're in-season from December right into the spring. It's not unusual to see locals baiting traps, called pots, with pieces of fish and throwing them off the docks in hopes of catching a few. But if trapping your own food isn’t your ball of wax, don't worry, you don't have to catch them yourself, crab season, like spot prawn season, means you can buy them fresh, directly from the fishermen off of their fishing boats. Our favourite way to eat them is with other seafood and vegetables in a crab boil, delicious!
3. Pacific Oysters
Pacific Oysters are not native to the Pacific North West; they were introduced to Canada from Japan for aquaculture. And seafood eating Canadians are happy about that. It means that Canadians can now eat oysters year round with farmed oysters supplementing the market when wild oysters aren’t available.
It is also possible to pick you own oysters, just make sure you check with the Dept of Fisheries and Oceans for information on best picking spots and the purchase of a BC tidal license.
You will also want to avoid picking during red tide and although some say to eat oysters during months with the letter “r”, that is a myth dating back to days before refrigeration when spoilage was a concern. These days it’s safe to eat oysters any time of the year. Oysters can be enjoyed freshly shucked, smoked or cooked.
4. Wild Pacific Salmon
Photo Credit: Randy Hall
There are five species of salmon in British Columbia, Coho, Sockeye, Chinook, Pink, Chum (aka dog salmon), seven if you count cutthroat and steehead (trout). The spring and fall salmon runs are amazing, with hundreds of thousands of fish going up river, it’s indescribable and something you have to see to believe. There are over fifty places where you can view the salmon run including hatcheries and parks. If you are a fisher person, British Columbia is a mecca for fly-fishing. And what could be more satisfying than catching a salmon on a fly rod? At least that’s what I hear from fishermen.
If you only eat sustainable seafood from the Ocean Wise list, you will be happy to know that all of these items appear on that list. So this summer, enjoy the fruits of the sea in British Columbia!
Looking for more information on travelling to BC? Contact one of our Travel Consultants at 1-877-967-5302