Monday, February 28, 2011


Locavore gone wild...what else is Mendel growing besides lettuce??

The term "locavore" took just 3 years to find it's way into the Oxford American Dictionary. But not just as another new word, as...yup..."Word of the Year".

As with so many things, it started in California. First coined by a group of San Francisco area women, "locavore" has become a favourite term for foodies and farmers alike. A 2010 survey of Canadian Chefs revealed that the top three "menu trends" are:

1) Locally sourced food

2)Sustainably produced ingredients

3)Organic produce

Trends to be sure, but will they last? Everyone wants to talk about eating locally produced, sustainably-sourced meals, but are people buying in? In a volatile economy, are they willing to pay for it? Organic, sustainable and local almost always carries a higher price tag than mass produced McFood.

At Sanbiki and Mori Mori, many customers are interested in local and sustainably sourced ingredients. They like seeing the Oceanwise symbol on our menu (and wall) and know that our tuna and salmon are from well-managed West Coast fisheries. Come spring, customers and downtown Chefs alike can be spotted shopping the Farmers Market. What else is going on in and around Kamloops?

Masato recently joined the TSCFC. It stands for "Thompson Shuswap Chef Farmer Collaborative. Aimed at bringing Kamloops and area Chefs together with local producers, the collaborative is still new but gaining momentum. In the photo above, TRU Culinary Arts Instructer Ed Walker outlines some of TSCFC's objectives. Cards, emails and ideas were exchanged by producers, Chefs and restaurateurs.

"Ted's Trout" are based in Little Fort and raise rainbow trout. They are proof that aquaculture can provide an environmentally sound, local and delicious alternative to fish taken by factory trawlers, or farmed in open sea pens. Maureen and Ted visited Sanbiki last week after meeting Masato at the TSCFC meeting. They dropped off some smoked and fresh frozen trout samples. These are products we want to start selling to our grocery customers next door at Mori Mori.

While local food is good; local booze...well, that's even better! We have seen an excellent response to Crannog Ales and the now famous (infamous!) Party Pig. There are no bottles or cans to recycle and their handcrafted organic Ales are brewed just down the road in Sorrento.

Premium, chilled sakes from Granville Island's Masa Shiroki are catching on too. Last year Shiroki-san experimented with growing sake rice in the Kamloops area. Apparently the birds got most of it but he hasn't given up yet...

That's all for now. We at Sanbiki are seriously ready for spring! Patio planning has begun already...trying to remember what flowers survived my care last season...there weren't many!!

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!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dashi Stock

It all started one dark and rainy Monday night...Sanbiki was slow, slow, slow...what to do with our beautiful (and empty!) space? We have a great Sanbiki team from Kamloops, Japan and Korea....and yet they were spending another uneventful evening peeling carrots and polishing glasses. We kept our spirits up but we knew we could do better....

Enter Sanbiki's "Sushi School"....

Once a month we converted the far side of the restaurant into a "cooking classroom" where Masato and Kishino could pass along the secrets to rolling great sushi. For $40 and 2 hours, students learned how to prepare sushi rice and fillings. There was the opportunity to make and cut a variety of rolls and pick Masato's brains for ancient Japanese culinary secrets. Afterwards, everyone was free to eat the fruits of their labour or take them home for late night snacking.

Sushi school continues to draw new students and keeps us occupied on those chilly, uneventful Monday evenings. But getting a taste (literally!) for Japanese cooking at home seems to be catching on....sushi graduates started asking questions...complicated, non-sushi related questions that we could not adequately answer over the two hours alloted to our Monday sushi classes...

Enter Sanbiki's "Dashi School"....

More victims...I mean, "students"...for Master Masato and Mistress Kishino....

And what is dashi? Excellent question! Dashi is the most basic Japanese stock and the secret to making delicious miso soup, sunomono salad dressing and many other soups and sauces. Fresh is best but unused dashi can be frozen for later use too.

Dashi is made from katsuoboshi (dried tuna flakes) konbu (dried kelp) and niboshi (dried small silverfish, usually anchovies) Homemade dashi is wonderful; smoky, earthy and packed with "umami". "Umami" can be thought of as "yumminess"; a savoury flavourfulness that comes from the glutamates in the seaweed and fish. Other foods high in glutamates are mushrooms, truffles, soy sauce and interestingly, some cheeses; parmesan for example.

Almost everyone (restaurants included!) use instant powdered dashi. At Sanbiki we have always made our dashi from scratch. We are certain that this has helped us develop a "taste" that is different from our competitors and one which our customers appreciate.

During the dashi lesson, Masato tells students what and how they should taste the dashi. You can smell the ocean from the kelp and a slight smokiness from the dried fish. After making the dashi, Masato shows the class how to use it to make "Oyakodon" or "chicken and egg" rice bowl.

It can also be used in popular sunomono salads made from harusame (yam noodles), cucumber and shrimp or other garnishes.

And as a base for noodles in soup, hot pots or simmered dishes. We use our homemade dashi in Sanbiki's Tempura Udon. It's perfect cold weather comfort food and a customer favourite.

If you're interested in sushi or dashi making classes, please give us a call at the restaurant (377 8857) Suggestions for other cooking classes or menu ideas always or send us an email!

Our new Build Your Own Bento dinner special is a hit!! Customers can choose from a variety of sushi rolls, appetizers (hot and cold!) and salads. Starting at only $10, we give you control...go on...Build A Bento tonight!!

Have a great week everyone! Sanbiki loves ya!