Aboriginal people have a strong tie to the land and their traditions, and the goal of chef Andrew George Jr. is to fuse these values with modern cooking techniques in his new book, "Modern Native Feasts: Healthy, Innovative, Sustainable Cuisine."
Here are some recipes from the book to try.
Braised Pacific Halibut
Pacific halibut are among the largest fish native to northern fishing waters, and among the tastiest.
Halibut season is coming up, says George. Here he calls for a braising method to cook the fish rather than using oil.
"Utilizing a stock and cooking in its natural juices is a much healthier way of cooking," he says. "That goes back to tradition. We never really fried things. We never really add oil. It was always broiled or roasted."
He suggests accompanying the dish with kale, Swiss chard or spinach.
4 175-g (6-oz) halibut fillets
45 ml (3 tbsp) all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper, to taste, for flour
30 ml (2 tbsp) canola oil or butter
30 ml (2 tbsp) minced shallots
30 ml (2 tbsp) minced garlic
125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
125 ml (1/2 cup) fish stock
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Dredge halibut fillets in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and shake off excess.
In a large frying pan on medium, heat oil. Cook seasoned fish skin side up for 6 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness. Flip and cook for 4 more minutes. Stir in shallots and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add white wine and stock. Cover and cook for another 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings.
Smoked Trout Hash With Grilled Salmon and Poached Eggs
George says that the trout harvest is synonymous with spring.
"Traditionally that was our access to the first fresh food because the trout is the first fish in the streams," he says.
The recipe is "my version of looking at corned beef hash and how can we actually improve. First Nations traditionally never ate breakfast, (except) porridge and that kind of stuff and smoked meat. I just thought the twist on the corned beef hash, teach them how to do some poached eggs. Having the actual omega-3 oils and all that stuff from the smoked trout, that's what I was getting at — the healthfulness of the trout."
The hollandaise sauce is optional but adds to the dish, he notes.
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
4 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1 smoked trout fillet (125 g/4 oz), slivered
4 salmon fillets (each 125 g/4 oz) grilled with fresh herbs, or steak
8 eggs, poached (recipe follows)
250 ml (1 cup) hollandaise sauce (recipe follows — optional)
In a large frying pan on medium-high, heat oil and saute potatoes until lightly browned. Add onion and saute for 7 to 10 minutes more, until browned. Stir in smoked trout and saute for another 3 minutes.
On each serving plate, top hash with 1 grilled salmon fillet and 2 poached eggs. Top with hollandaise sauce, if desired, and serve hot.
Makes 4 servings.
Perfectly Poached Eggs
1 l (4 cups) water
10 ml (2 tsp) white vinegar
For best results, let eggs sit at room temperature for at least an hour before poaching.
In a small saucepan, bring water and vinegar to a boil; reduce to a slow simmer. Crack eggs into a small ramekin or bowl before adding to water. Stir water, then add eggs. Poach for 4 minutes. Remove and strain.
15 crushed peppercorns
4 parsley stalks
10 ml (2 tsp) finely chopped shallots
10 ml (2 tsp) malt vinegar
10 ml (2 tsp) white wine vinegar
6 egg yolks
500 g (1 lb) clarified butter
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste
In a small saucepan on medium heat, add peppercorns, parsley, shallots and malt and wine vinegars. Cook until reduced by half. Strain into a clean bowl.
In a stainless-steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, add egg yolks and vinegar mixture. With a whisk, beat egg yolks until slightly thickened. Remove bowl from heat often to prevent overcooking. When mixture has increased in volume, slowly add clarified butter, whisking constantly as sauce thickens. Do not let it get too thick. Whisk in lemon juice and Tabasco. Add a little hot water if too thick. Keep sauce warm until ready to be served (will keep for no longer than 2 hours).
Makes 500 ml (2 cups).
Bannock (Fried and Baked)
Bannock is "a staple in the aboriginal community," George says. This recipe was inspired by Mike House, the baker at the First Nations pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver. To make it healthier, George has removed the lard and reduced the salt content. He also uses vegetable shortening when deep frying.
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) whole-wheat flour
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
45 ml (3 heaping tbsp) baking powder
15 ml (3 tsp) salt
15 ml (3 tsp) white sugar
1 l (4 cups) lukewarm water
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and add water. Gently and quickly mix until ingredients just come together.
Heat deep fryer to 180 C (350 F) or heat 30 ml (2 tbsp) oil in a large frying pan.
Place batter on floured surface and gently knead into soft dough, 3 to 4 minutes. Roll into a cylinder about 6.35 cm (2 1/2 inches) in diameter. Cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) thick rounds. Place on a floured surface to rest for 10 minutes.
In a deep fryer or frying pan, cook rounds for 7 to 8 minutes per side, until golden brown. Let bannock rounds cool, and slice in half like a burger bun.
Makes 1 dozen bannock rounds.
Use slightly wetter dough to make baked bannock; increase water noted above as needed.
Heat oven to 190 C (375 F). Follow recipe above for preparing dough.
Place dough in an oiled and lightly floured loaf pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush top with soft butter, then bake for another 20 minutes. Remove bannock from pan and let rest on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.
Cut bannock loaf into slices about 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick.
Makes 1 loaf.
Source: "Modern Native Feasts: Healthy, Innovative, Sustainable Cuisine" by Chef Andrew George Jr. (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013).