Chef adds Chi­nese touches to BC fresh

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By EDDY LOK For China Daily

Ned Bell loves how fresh Cana­dian seafood and the an­cient Chi­nese culi­nary tra­di­tion come to­gether.

The celebrity chef has in­cor­po­rated some of the se­crets of China’s cook­ing into his own recipes.

Bell shared some of his ap­proaches on June 9 at the start of the 10th Bri­tish Columbia Shell­fish and Seafood Fes­ti­val (June 9-19) in Co­mox.

Bell, who has been to China, demon­strated his Chi­ne­ses­tyle cook­ing and talked of Chi­nese in­flu­ences and flavours from around the world, as an au­di­ence in­clud­ing Chi­nese busi­ness­peo­ple and jour­nal­ists watched with ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

“Chi­nese in­flu­ence has been mas­sive through­out my en­tire culi­nary and chef’s life. In my own ex­pe­ri­ence, when I went to China and vis­ited Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Hong Kong, to cel­e­brate BC’s seafood, beef and wine, the Chi­nese just loved it,” said Bell, a chef based in Vancouver, which is home to a large com­mu­nity of Chi­nese im­mi­grants, tourists, stu­dents and busi­ness­peo­ple.

Bell, who was trained in the French culi­nary tra­di­tion, told China Daily that both Western Canada and China are in for a great culi­nary jour­ney to­gether.

The strong Chi­nese ap­petite for seafood, in­clud­ing farm­fresh salmon, oys­ters, lob­ster, prawns, crabs, mus­sels, scal­lops and other species, has driven ex­ports, es­pe­cially from Canada, which is famed for its qual­ity seafood, due to the clean and nat­u­ral state of its wa­ters.

The lat­est data from Statis­tics Canada show a ris­ing ap­petite for farm-raised salmon in China, with ex­ports from Bri­tish Columbia alone more than dou­bling over the pre­vi­ous high in 2012.

The BC shell­fish farm­ing in­dus­try pro­duces scal­lops, oys­ters, mus­sels, geo­duck, and Manila and other clams as part of a $37 mil­lion in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to Lara Greasley of the Co­mox Val­ley Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and Tourism.

BC ex­ports more than 90 per­cent of the seafood it pro­duces to over 74 mar­kets, with the US and China top­ping the list.

De­mand for salmon raised in BC has never been higher, ac­cord­ing to Jeremy Dunn, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the BC Salmon Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “If we had more fish to sell, I be­lieve that mar­keters would be sell­ing more to China be­cause of the im­prov­ing Chi­nese econ­omy,” Dunn said.

Amid the back­drop of a vi­brant and grow­ing seafood in­dus­try are chefs like Bell as well as the siz­able num­ber of Chi­nese restau­rants in Vancouver he says have in­flu­enced him into cre­at­ing Chi­nese-style flavours and in­gre­di­ents.

“This is an ex­tra­or­di­nary culi­nary phe­nom­e­non which lends it­self well to the en­joy­ment of seafood,” he said, de­scrib­ing BC’s seafood as of pre­mium qual­ity, com­ing from a clean and healthy ocean. “That is what builds up a strong Chi­nese ap­petite for Cana­dian seafood.”

BC is the lead­ing oys­ter-pro­duc­ing prov­ince and it pro­duces 87 per­cent of clams cul­tured in Canada. BC fish farm­ers pro­duce At­lantic salmon, Chi­nook and Coho salmon sable fish, trout and steel­head and stur­geon us­ing hatch­eries, marine farms and land-based aqua­cul­ture sys­tems.

“Such raw and fresh in­gre­di­ents are phe­nom­e­nal and some of the best in the world,” Bell said. “Know­ing Chi­nese cultue loves seafood, I don’t think you get any bet­ter supplies than seafood from this part of the world.”

At the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Vancouver where Bell works, there is a Chi­nese kitchen and fre­quent Chi­nese events such as wed­dings and 10-course din­ners that em­ploy Chi­nese chefs, with Bell over­see­ing the af­fairs and learn­ing from them as well.

“The ed­u­ca­tion I get from this is ex­tra­or­di­nary,” Bell said. “I get to ex­per­i­ment with global flavours. Vancouver has glob­ally in­spired favours, namely In­dian and Chi­nese. I am trained in French cook­ing skills us­ing cream sauces from France, but now I ex­pe­ri­ence the use of Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents, and this is an ev­ery­day thing and on­go­ing,” he said.

Bell said Chi­nese cui­sine, which in­volves a unique style of cook­ing with dis­tinc­tive in­gre­di­ents, tech­niques and dishes, has evolved over the cen­turies, while Cana­dian cui­sine is only a cou­ple of hun­dred years old. That fact in­ter­ests and in­trigues him.

“Not till I went to China did I ex­pe­ri­ence such great tra­di­tional Chi­nese foods. He said Chi­nese dishes served in Western coun­tries “are not that au­then­tic. It is adapted to our palates. North Amer­i­cans are not ad­ven­tur­ous eaters; we don’t love things we can­not recog­nise, and we don’t have much his­tory in our foods.

“Chi­nese have health ben­e­fits, mind ben­e­fits and soul ben­e­fits in their foods,” he said, an ap­proach not of­ten seen in the West.

Bell said he loves to see food pre­pared in its nat­u­ral state as much as pos­si­ble and not over­sea­soned.

“BC’s seafood is of such good qual­ity, we don’t need to (do much to it) to eat. We just en­joy, “he said.

Con­tact the writ­ers at huy­ongqi@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

SARAH SMITH / FOR CHINA DAILY

Cana­dian chef Ned Bell shares his cook­ing skills in Co­mox, Bri­tish Columbia.

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