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By Jaclyn Jularbal

Wednesday, June 21st marks the 21st Annual Celebration of National Aboriginal Day. Each year, thousands of people head to Vancouver’s Trout Lake Park for a fun-filled day of both traditional and contemporary Indigenous activities, entertainment, and food.  And what would a community gathering be without a mouth-watering, stomach-filling feast? With food trucks, caterers, and bannock makers on site – come hungry and get ready to journey into the tastiest National Aboriginal Day festival of all time.

Great gatherings start with great food, and this year the PR Bannock Factory will join the festivities as the featured caterers serving a community favourite: Chef Paul Natrall’s bannock tacos.

For the first time ever, the National Aboriginal Day at Trout Lake site map includes a food truck village open all day from 12pm to 10pm. Park visitors can enjoy plenty of street eats both savory and sweet, full of pizza, poutine, pierogies, and pastries.  Some food trucks are even offering special celebration menu items that commemorate the day – with ingredients like juniper berries, bison, and wild salmon on the menu.

Enjoy eats from morning to night with these local food trucks that are sure to satisfy all your cravings: The Bannock Wagon, Big Red’s Poutine, The Cannoli King, Community Pizzeria, C’est Si Bon, Flying Fish N Chipper, Old Country Pierogi, REEL Mac and Cheese, Say Hello Sweets, and Slavic Rolls.

If you’re heading to the festival for homemade bannock, don’t panic! From 12pm to 6pm the TWN Business Administration Program from Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations will be on site whipping up family recipes as they fundraise to “assist all Aboriginal People with their Training & Employment needs,” as stated on their website.  Enjoy a warm piece of bannock as you wander through the vendor area enjoying the many paintings and crafts made by talented local artists. The Bannock Wagon food truck is also a great option with fresh bannock pieces, sandwiches and desserts served all day long.

Witness the diverse cultures and traditions of Canada’s Indigenous people and join the celebration! Take a canoe tour of Trout Lake, join a mini traditional Pow Wow, witness the talented Git Hayetsk dancers, and spend the evening enjoying Aboriginal Day Live in the park. With events planned for the whole family, there’s plenty to eat so you can keep fuelled all day long.

Wednesday June 21, 2017
Trout Lake, 3300 Victoria Dr.
Vancouver, BC

For information about the day visit: National Aboriginal Day at Trout Lake or Aboriginal Day Live

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.

By Jaclyn Jularbal

When you talk about west coast cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is usually salmon – baked, smoked, candied, and cured. So many species of salmon have flourished around BC and for centuries Indigenous communities across the province have been dishing them up deliciously.

Chef Paul Natrall of Squamish Nation has been specializing in Indigenous cuisines for over 5 years. After his graduation from the Aboriginal Culinary Arts program at Vancouver Community College, he takes a special interest in creating the most unique flavours of salmon candy. His catering business, the PR Bannock Factory, serves up delicious bags by the pound at local farmers markets and on order all-year round.

Chef Paul Natrall fillets sockeye salmon

Salmon candy gets its flavouring from the salt and brown sugar used to flavour it. Left overnight the wet fish texture changes and becomes ready for its next steps towards becoming the almost syrup-like candied texture that it’s known for.  Sockeye works exceptionally well for Paul, who often prepares large batches of salmon candy at a time for customer orders across the city.

Candied salmon is great served on salads, as a side, or in a snack bowl. The rich, mouth-watering flavours can boast anything from teriyaki tastes to the more traditional sweetness. All flavours are great tasting on their own or paired nicely with buttered bannock. The simple, fluffy texture of bannock has its own hearty taste and the two on a plate together, well, they’re delicious.

If you’re looking for west coast food then you have to give candied salmon a try.

You can find Paul at the Shipyard Night Market, the Artisan Farmers Market, and local community pow wows. Candied salmon is also available in different flavours over the counter at Granville Island Public Market.

View more from Chef Paul on Instagram @prbannockfactory or on Facebook at PRCateringCreations.

By Alexis Baran

Coastal and multicultural are the flavours of Vancouver’s most recognized specialties. To get to know the unique bites (and sips) Vancouverites love to munch, start with these eleven favorites:

JapaDog

Vancouver’s original most-talked-about food cart serves Japanese-inspired hotdogs. Bask in the salty, sweet, and spicy tastes of seaweed flakes, teriyaki sauce, miso, wasabi and kimchi. There are multiple locations in downtown Vancouver, including an indoor location at 530 Robson.

Japadog | Photo: are you gonna eat that | Flickr
Japadog | Photo: are you gonna eat that | Flickr

B.C. Rolls

British Columbia’s signature sushi roll is done in many ways, but the one consistent ingredient is grilled savoury and chewy salmon skin. Get them at just about any sushi joint in Vancouver.

B.C. Rolls | Photo: Leila Kwok
B.C. Rolls | Photo: Leila Kwok

Coffee

Busy Vancouverites are often particular about their favorite liquid pick-me-up, and love their pour-overs and flavoured espresso drinks. Some local chains to try are Milano Coffee, 49th Parallel, and JJ Bean. But don’t forget the many cozy independent shops to be found who take their coffee very seriously. Try soy or almond milk to replace traditional milk and cream at almost any place you find – dairy-free options are standard here!

Coffee | Photo: protographer23 | Flickr
Coffee | Photo: protographer23 | Flickr

Salmon Candy

B.C. smoked salmon glazed with maple syrup or local honey is smokey, salty, sweet, and impossible to stop eating once you’ve started. If you want to save some as a gift for family back home, make sure you get a little extra for yourself – more than you thought you needed even, It is seriously addictive! You can find it at Granville Island Public Market and Fish Counter on Main Street.

Salmon Candy | Photo: Carol M Chan
Salmon Candy | Photo: Carol M Chan

Spot Prawns

These beautiful pink creatures are large, sweet shrimp fished in the waters surrounding Vancouver in the month of May. Most fine restaurants in Vancouver serve fresh prawns when available, such as Yew at the Four Seasons Hotel, and the annual Spot Prawn Festival is held every year on Granville Island.

Spot Prawns | Photo: West Restauraunt
Spot Prawns | Photo: West Restauraunt

West Coast Oysters

West coast oysters are a taste of the freshness of the ocean itself. Kumamoto, Kusshi, and Fanny Bay are some of our local varieties, and oyster houses will have a variety to try, along with knowledgeable servers who can recommend a type for every taste. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, and Merchants Oyster Bar are excellent places to start.

Oysters | Photo: Joe Fortes
Oysters | Photo: Joe Fortes

Dungeness Crab

Large meaty crabs are harvested along the west coast, and trapping them yourself for dinner is a local pastime, but you don’t need to get in the water to enjoy them in many local restaurants. Some great places to try Dungeness Crab are Blue Water Café & Raw Bar or Hawksworth.

Indigenous Cuisine

Salmon, fiddleheads, elk, and other native west coast foods make for a warm and hearty meal. Indigenous foods are proof that the land was rich with delicious ingredients and diverse flavours long before we called it “Vancouver.” One place to try it is Salmon n’Bannock Bistro.

First Nations Cuisine | Photo: Degan Walters
First Nations Cuisine | Photo: Degan Walters

Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum

Richmond, where the native Chinese languages-speaking population is over 40%, is considered to have some of the best Chinese food outside of China. In Vancouver, you can get a taste in Chinatown. Places such as Floata Seafood Restaurant serve excellent dim sum as well as a variety of traditional and modern dishes.

Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum | Photo: Tourism Richmond
Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum | Photo: Tourism Richmond

Japanese Ramen and Izakaya

There are few things cozier than tucking into a steaming bowl of ramen, or gathering with friends and sharing hot sake and a table full of various izakaya dishes. Izakaya is a tradition originating from sake shops in the Edo period (1603-1867) where customers could sit down for drinks and bites. Today in Vancouver, izakaya is a range of diverse Japanese bites with a flourish of Japanese spirit -infused beverages. You can find it all over Vancouver, but particularly in the West End neighbourhood, at places such as Kingyo on Denman.

Izakaya | Photo: Kingyo on Denman
Izakaya | Photo: Kingyo on Denman

Famous Cuisine: Vij’s Curry and Tojo’s Sushi

Vikram Vij and Hidekazu Tojo are two of Vancouver’s most iconic chefs, lauded by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Martha Stewart. Vikram Vij has restaurants in Vancouver and Surrey. Tojo’s is located in West Broadway in Vancouver.

Tojo’s | Photo: Leila Kwok
Tojo’s | Photo: Leila Kwok