Sunday, February 13, 2011

HM:TRU Love!

Masato...What was he up to? Surreptitiously packing boxes after hours at Sanbiki. Checking his Chef's apron carefully for stains. I'd caught him studying unversity maps on the computer late at night and heard the end of a strange phone conversation..."I'll see you Tuesday night". Something was up...a picnic with a nubile, young TRU student? Even worse then another woman, was it another restaurant? Was he leaving me and our Sanbiki monster-child for a real, paying job?
Tuesday night he told me the truth..."I'm going to see Ed tonight"....ED! Another man! I never saw it coming...Who was this Ed?

I had the university connection right but that was about it. "Ed" = Ed Walker, Culinary Arts Instructor at Thompson Rivers University. Like Sanbiki, Ed is committed to sourcing quality, local sustainable products for Accolades, TRU's fine dining restaurant. Staffed and run by the students and faculty of the Culinary Arts Program, 80% of the ingredients are local. Ed is well-known for supporting local producers and finding ways for them to hook up with Kamloops restaurants.
Arrangements had been made for Masato to attend TRU's Culinary Arts School as a "guest Chef". Masato wanted to demonstrate how to make "dashi" to the students at TRU. The basic stock in Japanese cooking, dashi is made from dried, shaved tuna (Katsuboshi), kelp (konbu) and dried sardines/anchovies (niboshi)

It is perhaps different from many classic French stocks as it does not require a long and complicated roasting, cooking and /or reduction process. At Sanbiki we make fresh dashi almost every day. It's used in miso soup, udon noodles in soup, sunomono dressing and other sauces.

We Canadians are learning to appreciate a wide variety of seafood, prepared in different ways. We've got our favourites though. Salmon, tuna, shrimp and scallops are some bestsellers. "Oily" fish like mackerel, sardines, anchovies and saury are still associated with a strong, "fishy" taste for many North Americans. This is especially true when it comes to sushi. Raw or marinated "silver fish" (or "hikarimono" in Japanese), have been a very tough sell at Sanbiki!

It's a shame because with care and the proper preparation, these fish are delicious raw or cooked. Even better, smaller fish tend to have rapid reproductive rates and are often a sustainable seafood option. Big, long living fish like Blue Fin Tuna, Chilean Seabass and sharks have had their numbers decimated by overfishing and it will take years for those species to recover (if it is even possible). Masato wanted to show the students
that small is not only beautiful, but delicious when it comes to fish.

"Sanma" are Pacific Saury. Served salted and grilled whole in Japan, they are a fall favourite! But marinated in a little vinegar and sprinkled witha pinch of salt, they make delicious sushi too.

Sometimes a chef will top the sushi with a hint of fresh ginger or citrus to balance the oiliness of the fish. Masato wanted to introduce the TRU crowd to a "non-traditional" fish in North American Cuisine but one which is a tasty (and sustainable!) Japanese staple. He demonstrated how to cut, clean and prepare marinated sanma.

It was a great experience for Masato and the students and his first opportunity to check out all the facilities at the Culinary Arts Centre. We were invited to dinner at Accolades, the fine dining restaurant they run at TRU. The following week, we enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared by Ed, Ron and the students. Regional ingredients were featured front and center. Local meat and dairy products featured prominently and sustainably-sourced BC Spot Prawns, trout and scallops were nicely prepared. It was all washed down with a few pints of excellent Irish Ale courtesy of
Sorrento based Crannog Ales
Sanbiki is TRUly international! Not only do we have an amazing team of ladies and gentlemen from Kamloops, Japan and Korea, we took part in International Days at TRU last week! We were invited to set up a take out table in the Int'l Food Fair set up in the Gym. Megumi served up sushi packs and our homemade "Gyudon", Canadian beef over rice in our homemade sauce. "Oden" is a dish made with simmered vegetables, meats and other foods. It's cold weather comfort food and the smell brought many customers to our table...Megumi's pretty smile helped too!

Sanbiki is proud to be able to take part in events like the ones at TRU. We have many amazing cutomers, young and old; from Kamloops and the world. It is our job to make all of our guests feel welcome and give them the lunch, dinner or take out snack they deserve!

If you haven't seen our completed mural, drop by and check it out! Kamloops artist Alex Moir-Porteous put in many months of hard work and it shows. The piece showcases Kamloops and BC and incorporates many of our local suppliers. See Paula, Mendel and Saul from the Farmers Market, Masa Shiroki (Granville Island Sake) and our favourite...the draft Party pig from Crannog good...hick!

Have a great Valentines Day! Sanbiki loves you!

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