Going to Tofino is aways a joy driving down the winding roads of beautiful British Columbia and taking in the beautiful nature. What is equally on par is their fresh produce and innovative Pacific North West cusine. We spent a few days in Tofino driving in the 2018 Buick Regal and one of the highlights of the trip was getting first hand knowledge of crabbing and foraging in the backyard of Tofino.
Tofino is a small town on Vancouver Island known for their surfing, sightseeing, and eats as it faces the Pacific Ocean. It’s a popular spot for short vacations for locals. Even some celebrities have vacation homes here. What I love most is that there are no chain restaurants for miles. All you get is local dishes with local ingredients.
We got into a boat after a safety tutorial and got out life jackets on. The night before, they put down a few crab traps in the close waters with some fish trimmings to lure them in.
As it is peak crabbing season, we took chances to pull up the traps, and it needed some arm strength to pull up those traps. It gave me a lot more respect for those who catch seafood. It’s hard work.
There are limitations on the size and amount of crabs we could collect as we were out here. Due diligence is done to ensure the sustainability of the seafood in the ocean. We collected 3 fresh beautiful crabs that would be turned into appetizers later in the day.
As we got our crabs, we headed into the woods to gather some more items.
Foraging in the Woods
Some may disregard some edible plants as weeds and I’m guilty of doing the same. We looked a few bushes and Chef Paul Moran was able to guide us through a few items and share with us their flavour profiles.
Spruce Buds are high in vitamin C and has a citrus flavour profile to them, which can replace lemon sometimes. Sometimes you can find these incorporated into cocktails, ice cream and beer.
Narrow-leaved Plantain grows close to the ground in clusters. It can be used in teas or used as medicine for wounds and sores.
Elderflower has been a popular food trend for the last few years being turned into syrups for beverages for its floral taste.
Salmonberry Blossoms grows on the Pacific Coast due to the climate. Its bright pink/purple in colour and edible. If left on the bush, it will turn into a salmonberry.
Salal Blossom is sticky. It’s common to find this bush in BC. The indigenous peoples use this in their cooking.
Dandelion Buds are edible. It’s gotten a bad reputation as dandelions grow in yards like crazy and even between cracks of cement. We were in search of the dandelion buds for the bittersweet flavour profile.
The last item we picked was bittercress, a wild version of watercress flowers. It has a taste similar to broccoli.
Now, that we have all 7 items, it was time to head to the kitchen to see how it gets turned into beautiful dishes.
From Nature to Kitchen
Chef Paul Moran made us a flatbread topped with the foraged ingredients.
After the base of the flatbread was cooked in the oven, he tore a bit of every item on top of the pizza.
The crisp flatbread, floral foraged greens, and the sweet salty cheese was delicious.
Lets not forget the crab we caught earlier. It was so fresh and sweet. You can really tell the quality and difference. I ate so much of like I was at a buffet. hahaha. Can’t get enough.
It was a fun afternoon following Chef Paul Moran gather all the ingredients and turn it into appetizers before dinner. Sometimes its good to go back to nature to see where food comes from and not underestimating whats growing in our natural wild forests.