Vancouver Food

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Do you want to sample West Coast cuisine or cook it at home?  Granville Island is a wonderful source of gourmet products; and these articles will help you find the best places to shop for specialty foods.

Oysters, Scallops, Mussels, Clams and Crab


There are many types of shellfish available on the west coast and many tasty ways to prepare them!


Longliner Seafoods in The Public Market carries fresh oysters.  Although some people do eat them raw, they're even better on the barbecue.  After scrubbing the live oysters clean with a brush, put them on the grill until they just start to open. Spoon in a flavourful topping, like salsa and cheddar cheese, and serve! However, if you'd rather have someone else prepare your oysters for you, try them pan fried at The Sandbar Restaurant.


Locally farmed scallops are not only tasty, they're environmentally sustainable since they clean the water as they grow.  If you visit The Lobsterman in the Maritime Market, you may purchase whole or shucked scallops.  In west coast cuisine, these plump scallops are often pan seared or grilled. (Check for recipes on the Lobsterman website.)  If buying scallops in the shell, you may also wish to prepare Coquilles St. Jacques.  In this beautiful dish, the scallops are coated in white wine sauce, European cheese and potato.  If you make this dish, save the "lips" and prepare them according to your favourite calamari recipe. Finally, for a delicious lunch, try the Qualicum Bay scallop sandwich at Go Fish!


You may find yourself tempted by the clams, mussels or other shellfish at the Lobsterman.  Clam chowder is quite popular on the coast and is always on The Sandbar Restaurant's menu.  Mussels are also quite flavourful when steamed in a white wine sauce.  The Sandbar Restaurant serves them in coconut curry.


The white meat of a Pacific Dungress crab tastes sweet when cooked.  It is often baked into crab cakes or boiled whole and served with garlic butter.  Bridges Restaurant offers pan seared crab, served with chili mango salsa. The Sandbar Restaurant has both crab cakes and fresh crab right out of their tanks.


If you'd like to learn other ways of preparing seafood, try taking a cooking class with Edible BC.

Handmade Treats


There is only one place in Vancouver that offers handmade donuts and that's Lee's Donuts in The Public Market. (Some regular visitors a taxi right from the airport to Lee's!) The best kind is the original honey coated donut. It's worth asking when a fresh batch is coming out of the oven because nothing beats these piping-hot beauties. They taste just like your grandmother's donuts.


Another tasty Granville Island treat is homemade fudge or peanut brittle. The Olde World Fudge Co. makes candy right before your eyes and serves it as fresh as can be. They also allow customers to sample before buying.


In addition to having some of Vancouver's best treats, The Public Market has some of kindest merchants. Linda from The Fudge Co. actually saved Alan Lee's life; and you can read all about it in Granville Island Book!

B.C. Spot Prawns


Caught in the deep, cool waters of the B.C. coast, spot prawns actually taste a little like lobster. The simplest way of preparing them is to boil them and dip them in fresh garlic butter. Alternately, marinate the prawns in a spicy sauce (i.e. olive oil with cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, etc.) then skewer and grill them. Or saute the prawns with crisp veggies in a soy-mirin sauce and sprinkle the dish with black sesame seeds just before serving. However you prepare them, the cooking time is approximately 1-2 minutes. The prawns should just turn pink. Do NOT overcook them!


You can find spot prawns at any of the seafood businesses in The Public Market. If you buy frozen prawns, thaw them by leaving them in the fridge overnight or sitting the package in cold water.


A good choice for ready-to-eat prawns is Go Fish! Located just across from the Fishermen's Wharf, a five minute walk from Granville Island, this fish shack serves up the daily catch. During the 2010 BC Spot Prawn Festival, Go Fish will offer deals on spot prawn meals. Fishermen will also be selling fresh prawns for $12 per pound right off the boats.  The Festival will kick off on May 8th, 2010 with special activities from 12 pm - 3 pm.  It runs for the whole eight week spot prawn season.  


Want to know what it's like to be a fisherman? From killer whale pods to stormy seas, we've got loads of true tales in the Granville Island Book!

Gourmet Sausages


Sausage may not be the first thing you think of when you take a trip to the West Coast, but Oyama's sausages are famous in Vancouver and served in the city's top restaurants.  What makes these sausages very Vancouver?  A few magic words such as "local farms", "rare breeds of pigs" and "hand-made."  Carefully crafted using European recipes, Oyama Sausage Co. has been driving locals wild with hunger for five generations.


There is little need to fuss with these delicacies. Just bring them home from The Public Market and barbecue.  Or for a picnic feast, pick up some of Oyama's pates and cheeses and serve them with a baguette from La Baguette et L'Echalote.


Oyama's manager, Jerome, is perhaps the happiest man in the market.  Not only does he sell "the best product on earth," he has also crafted a walnut wine in honour of his grandfather's life.  You can read the story of Jerome's grandfather's near-death experience during World War I in the Granville Island Book.  After reading the tale, why not try the wine?  It's available at Liberty Wines, just across from The Public Market.

Wild Pacific Salmon


Smoked salmon is famous on the West Coast, but have you ever tried Indian Candy? When making Indian Candy, the chef soaks the salmon in sugar or maple syrup before smoking it. This produces sweetly glazed product that is sometimes seasoned with garlic and black pepper. You can eat Indian Candy as a snack or serve it as you would fish. It's wonderful on a salad with a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.


For smoked salmon, very little beats a toasted bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers. Try to find this classic in The Public Market or prepare it at home.


Since the salmon is so fresh, west coast sushi is also hard to beat. You may try salmon sushi or sashimi in the market or at The Sandbar Restaurant.


Longliner Seafoods sells Indian Candy and smoked salmon by the gram, so you can buy a small amount to sample. (Remember, it's pre-cooked!) They will pack your fish for travel. The business is run by Jim Moorehead, a fisherman from Northern B.C. who knows his fish and many of the local fisherman.  


What is it like to be a fisherman off the coast of Alaska? Jim tells stories of sunken ships and massive storms in the Granville Island Book.