Though Canada may have been my northern neighbor, there is surprisingly little I knew about their cuisine. Us Americans tend to regard Canada as the 51st state, or ignore it entirely. Last week I was invited to a dinner at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahar for the Taste of Canada festival. Executive Chef, John Cordeaux, who oversees all of the hotel’s restaurants including Frankie’s and Marco Pierre White, is of Canadian origin. He created a menu highlighting Canadian meat and produce including sablefish (aka black cod), elk, and artisanal Quebecois cheeses. The meal was perhaps one of the most exquisite I’ve had since I moved to the Emirates. When you’re in this industry, you come across a lot of mediocre, hastily prepared, pretentious dishes. This meal, on the other hand, was created by someone who clearly loved the ingredients. And judging by the beaming expression on Chef Cordeaux’s face when he came to greet us, it was a meal that he was also proud of. Some of the notable dishes included a recreation of the classic, (and low-brow) dish Poutine: usually French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. This version layered thrice-cooked French fries with artisanal cheese, braised veal cheeks, and a veal jus reduction. The smoked sablefish was also particularly memorable and the recipe is below. It’s the first meal in ages that left me excited and inspired. Canadian cuisine: it’s more than just maple syrup indeed.
The “Taste of Canada” promotion continues until 15 December 2011 at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in CuiScene, Frankie’s Italian Restaurant & Bar and Marco Pierre White Restaurant & Grill. For more information, or to make a reservation, please contact the food and beverage concierge at +971 2 654 3238 or email email@example.com
Smoked Georgia Strait sablefish with corn and potato hash
- 4 x180g fillets sablefish or other firm white fish
- 15g dark brown sugar
- 30ml soy sauce
- 15ml maple syrup
- 100ml apple juice
- 15ml liquid smoke (optional)
- 2 tbsp oil
For the corn and potato hash:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 10g butter
- 1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 300g potatoes (fingerling variety if possible)
- 150g corn niblets (cooked on a barbecue is best, although tinned can be used as an alternative)
- 75ml cream
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 30g chanterelle mushrooms
- 4 baby carrots, peeled
- pea purée (optional)
- cabbage sprouts (optional)
- salt and black pepper
- Mix the sugar, soy sauce, maple syrup, apple juice and liquid smoke (if using) together in a large bowl. Add the fish fillets and leave to marinate for 45 minutes to an hour.
- In the meantime, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water, until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain well and when they are cool enough to handle, cut into small dice.
- Blanch the carrots briefly in boiling water, then refresh in iced water to stop the cooking process.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, then add the butter followed by the onion and garlic and sauté for two to three minutes. Add the cooked potatoes and the corn, season with salt and black pepper and cook for eight to 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and the parsley.
- Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the fish fillets (shaking off any excess marinade) and cook for three minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Remove from the pan and leave to rest. Place the same pan over a high heat, add the blanched carrots and the chanterelles, season with salt and black pepper and cook for two to three minutes.
- To serve, spoon a pile of the corn and potato hash on to each plate. Place the fish on top, arrange the mushrooms and carrots around the edge and add a spoonful or two of pea purée, if using. Finish with a piece of cabbage sprout, if you wish.