Curing Salmon on Vancouver’s North Shore with Squamish Nation’s Chef Paul Natrall

By Jaclyn Jularbal

Right in the heart of Squamish Nation on Vancouver’s North Shore, lies the PR Bannock Factory – a catering business and food trailer owned and operated by Chef Paul Natrall.

Paul began his cooking career a decade ago as a teen involved with the Cook Street Café, a six month program for youth on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. His love for preparing meals led him to enroll and graduate from the Aboriginal Culinary Arts program at Vancouver Community College, where Paul launched his career specializing in traditional Indigenous cuisines. The dream to start his own business came into fruition after finding success as part of Team Canada’s Culinary Team in the 2012 World Culinary Olympics.

Though he’s been working professionally for just a decade his journey to owning his own business has been much longer. Paul’s love for cooking started when he was just a boy. “I’ve been cooking for my family for as long as I can remember. We moved in with my grandma and I started learning from her right after that.”

As a grandson, son, and now father – Paul is busy teaching his young children how to create their own culinary masterpieces. How to cure the perfect salmon is one of those things.

Chef Paul Natrall starts with fresh Sockeye salmon

Cured Salmon – A Delectable Choice

Traditionally, salmon curing was used as a way to preserve food throughout the less bountiful months. Now, cured salmon is a staple on many west coast tables. The classic, hearty taste is a great addition to any meal at any time of day – over eggs, in pasta dishes, and served with cream cheese on bannock.

Left to sit refrigerated in salt, curing is a way for salmon to essentially “cook” itself. The scientific nature of the components creates a concoction that changes the texture of the salmon over time and results in a flavourful, denser, and completely ready-to-eat fish.

The Process

First, the salmon is washed and filleted, and then the tiny pin bones are taken out. You can use salt, herbs, berries, or sugar for desired flavouring. Additions like juniper berries or other mixes will also add to the salmon’s essence. Depending on your meal plans – sweet, sour, or spiced may be just the kind of add you’re looking for.

Chef Paul Natrall has his own secret method of curing salmon, which is of course the key to any successful eatery. Want to eat one of BC’s most traditional foods? Give cured salmon a try.

You can find Paul at the Shipyard Night Market, the Artisan Farmers Market, and local community pow wows, and he is available for catering. View more from Chef Paul on Instagram @prbannockfactory

Cured salmon is also available over the counter at Granville Island Public Market.