Saturday, May 30, 2009

Where Does Your Salmon Come From?

Where Does Your Salmon Come From?

By: Chef Cristian

The sushi chef has prepared a beautiful plate of Salmon Sashimi (raw sliced salmon). Trusting its quality and freshness, you dab a little Wasabi on it, dip it in the soya sauce and toss it back. The buttery flavour melts in your mouth, and after $50 worth of sushi you realize, once again, that you've had way too much! Did you ever stop to think where that salmon came from?

Now picture yourself walking through the fresh wilderness of British Columbia. You come to stand on a pile of mossy rocks. Behind you stands a forest of tall pines hiding in the mist, and before you is the cold Pacific Ocean. You take a deep breath of fresh air and think, "Man, this is nature at it's best!" You walk along the rocky shore and spot one of British Columbia's salmon farms off in the distance. You go in for a close look expecting to find salmon swimming busily about in their natural habitat. Instead, you find out something not-so-natural...

Thousands of salmon are thrashing about in an enclosed pen of brown, murky water. The stench is similar to that of a pig farm, and you pinch your nose for a closer look. The water is brown from the salmon's feces and at the bottom of the ocean floor is a thick layer of feces and un-eaten food. This creates a dead zone for any creatures that once inhabited this ocean inlet. It is now a toxic wasteland of murky water and thrashing salmon. The same salmon that might end up at the business end of your chopsticks. They spend so much time breathing and swimming in this water that their flesh (normally orange-red from a natural diet of crustaceans and sea life) is now a pale brown, and must be chemically colored back to orange to make you buy it at the store! This is "farm raised salmon."

I was as surprised as you are when I discovered this, and although not all fish farms may operate this way - many do. I have since made sure that any salmon that I eat is wild caught only. Luckily you can still find wild caught salmon at your local fish store, and awareness of this situation is slowly reaching the general public. This is not a call to stop eating salmon (as there are many benefits to eating this nutrient rich fish) it's just an article to better inform you what you are eating, where it comes from, and what effects it may be causing to the environment.

I have had much success with wild caught Alaskan salmon and believe it to be a superior product in terms of quality, taste and texture over conventional farm raised salmon. So don't be shy about asking where your salmon comes from!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dijon Crusted Lamb Chops

Dijon Crusted Lamb Chops
By: Chef Cristian

These succulent lamb chops have been such a success for me that I feel almost ashamed to give away their secret - which, really, is just their simplicity. Of all the dishes I have ever made, (and as a chef, I have made MANY) these lamb chops have never failed to satisfy my guests, and I continue to receive rave reviews on them regularly.

You can serve this dish as a beautiful appetizer or a stunning main course. And I have have also served these as hot appetizers at cocktail parties with a spicy Dijon dip. The frenched bone makes them very easy to pick up and eat with your hands!

Yield: 4 Portions

- 2 Racks of Lamb (Frenched - Meaning that the bones have been scraped of meat and skin and are exposed)
- Red Wine (I use Shiraz for this recipe)
-3 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary (bruised - meaning that you hit the plant with the back of a knife to bruise them)
- 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic roughly chopped
- 2 Cups Italian Breadcrumbs
- Dijon or Meaux Mustard (also known as whole grain mustard)
- About 1 cup of Olive Oil (you may need more)
- Horseradish (optional)

As with all of my recipes, the first step is to prepare all of you ingredients and have them ready to go! This could mean mixing, chopping, pouring, cutting, dicing - you get the idea.

Step 1.
Cut the rack of lamb into individual chops and marinade them in the wine, Rosemary and garlic. Add enough wine so that the chops are covered. I like to use plastic bags to marinate instead of bowls because I find that the marinading liquid is in much closer contact with the meat. Marinade anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours.

Step 2.
In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Dijon mustard and olive oil. If you like, you can add horseradish to this mixture, but this is up to you. Mix thoroughly. This will be your crust, so make sure that it is moist enough so that when you press the mixture into a spoon with the palm of your hand, it sticks together and doesn't easily crumble apart.

Step 3.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the individual chops on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Scoop a heaping spoonful (using a regular soup spoon) of the breadcrumb mixture onto a spoon and compact it by squeezing with the palm of your hand around the spoon. Then transfer the crust from the spoon onto one lamb chop and press it into the lamb with your hand so that the top side of the lamb chop has an oval layer of Dijon crust on it. Repeat this for each lamb chop.
Step 4.
Roast lamb in oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on how well done you like your lamb). Take out of the oven and transfer onto a platter, appetizer dish of main course according to how you will be using this versatile dish!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Snow Crab Legs with Tequila Mary-Rose Sauce

Snow Crab Legs with Tequila Mary-Rose Sauce

By: Chef Cristian

There is nothing quite as refreshing as eating crab legs by the sea. I was inspired to create this appetizer for a couple of clients who were vacationing at a beautiful beach house on Clearwater beach. The sun was shining, the breeze was tropical, and you could hear the waves lapping on the shore as crab legs were busily cracked and enjoyed!

This recipe offers an easy way to satisfy your guests. The sweet sauce has a kick of tequila that will keep your guests wanting more! I had lots of fun designing this dish, and was able to use sea shells right from the beach, along with a half coconut to hold the dipping sauce! Be sure to put out a big bowl for the cracked shells.

Note: Snow Crab legs usually come in clusters. Each cluster is made up of 3 to 5 legs. The base of the legs is full of juicy meat, so make sure to eat that too! You should portion one to two clusters per guest as an appetizer, and more if it's the main course. The best tool to get crab meat out of the shells are single wooden chopsticks. Lobster picks work too. Nut-Crackers may be provided for your guests, but most people can crack crab legs with their hands.

Snow Crab Legs (one to two clusters per guest)
2 Lemons
Louisiana Hot Sauce
1.5 Cups of Mayonnaise
1.5 Cups of Tomato Ketchup
2 oz of Tequila (your favourite Tequila)


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut two lemons in half and put them in the water along with a generous amount of salt. Add the snow crab legs to the water and boil for 15 minutes. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix the following ingredients: The mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce and tequila. Add as much hot sauce as you like. Mix thoroughly until it becomes a uniformly pink sauce.

3. Arrange Crab legs on a platter and serve with dipping sauce on the side.