For the Love of Local Eats: Fortune Cooking Festival
Be local. Think sustainable. Eat delicious. There's so much food Mother Ontario offers and it can all be prepared fresh and sizzling to your ethnic taste. That was the message delivered through food demonstrations and competitions at the Harbourfront Centre's 1st Fortune Cooking Festival; an exploration of Pan-Asian culture and cuisine.
First stop: Korean Cuisine with Chef John Lee in partnership with Slow Food Toronto. You might know Chef John Lee as the Captain (aka President) that steers the almighty famous fish n' chips ship, Chippy's. The multi-tasking Chef also handles the governance of Slow Food Toronto, "an international, member-driven organization that supports good, clean, fair and local food principles."
On the Chef's menu: Scallion and Ontario Lake Trout Blinis or Bin Dae Dok; a savoury pancake that's a hot street food in Korea. Literally and metaphorically. A soy sauce and vinegar dressing was served alongside for dipping. The from Ontario ingredients: Fresh Trout from Evergreen Brick Works and ginger and garlic from a local Farmer's Market. And the batter was just as wholesome too: Red Fife Flour, a coarse, non-modified and unbleached flour, containing a heritage variety of wheat grown in Ontario.
But this demo was about more than having mouth and belly full. There was some food for thought too. Chef John explained which ingredients can be modified for greater health benefit and support of the food chain. For instance, you can partially replace iodized salt with Kosher or Sea salts for less sodium. And why not be protein-conscious as well? Avoid top "feeders" such as tuna or salmon for marine preservation.
To complement Chef John's points was Paul DeCampo, Convivium Leader for Slow Food Toronto. Paul explained why buying local makes good health, community and money sense for consumers, farmers and producers. More importantly - at least for myself - he defined what slow food is. Yes, you should bite, chew and savour slowly. But also eat raw, eat fresh and cook from scratch. Just like mom.
So, getting to the bottom of this Korean Pancake business, how did the Bin Dae Dok pan out? Hook, line and sinker! The soft yet crisp patty was perfectly accented by the savoury soy sauce and vinegar dressing. The cake, fish and dressing presented my buds with a balanced interplay of texture and delicious taste. The only downer: I couldn't kiss anyone after the demo. and nor should you, unless he or she is a fish. Plenty of Fish, anyone?
Although ethnically different, Chef John's Bin Dae Dok reminds me of mom's East African Tuna Cutless. Cutless is a popular treat with Dar-es-Salaam'ers and Zanzibarians, especially during this month of Ramadhan.
Chef John Lee graciously shared his Bin Dae Dok recipe with the audience, found below. Try it at home using fresh Ontario ingredients and let me know how it turned out.
1 cup Red Fife Flour
2 cups Baking Flour
3 tblsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
5 stalks Scallions (chopped lengthwise)
100 g Trout
5 tblsp Sesame Oil
1 cup Vegetable Oil
3-4 Cups Water
1 tsp. fine chopped garlic
2 tblsp. soy sauce
1 tbslp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. chopped ginger
1) Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and slowly whisk in water, ensuring that there are no lumps.
2) Into a heated skillet, add a few drops of Sesame Oil and two to three tablespoons of vegetable oil.
3) Using a small ladle, pour batter into a heated pan of oil. There should be enough batter to create a 4 inch diametre blini. Allow the blini to settle in the pan.
4) Quickly add 1/10 of the Trout and Scallion to the blini and let cook until the edges start to brown.
5) Turn blini over and cook until brown on all sides.
6) Garnish with a chiffonade of red lettuce and serve with dressing.
8 reasons you should buy local
(Source:Farm Fresh Fare booklet; Green Living in partnership with Slow Food, Evergreen and the Province of Ontario)
1) It's better for everyone's bottom line
2) It supports the future of farming in Ontario
3) It promotes biodiversity
4) It promotes cultural diversity
5) It empowers consumers
6) It promotes a greater sense of family
7) It boosts our well-being
8) It tastes better!
And now for some pictures from the Longo's Iron Chef Competition…
Click on the slideshow below