The moment you lay eyes on The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge you are instantly transported to the ocean and the welcoming embrace it imparts on your soul. It’s the first cookbook that made me stop dead in my tracks from rushing to open the book and flip through the recipes and photos in a mad frenzy. The texture of the front cover draws me in instantly. I’m running my hands over the front, my mind even more curious as to what I’ll find inside.
From reading the charming introduction and history of the Wickaninnish Inn you understand the connection of the cover. The wood grain that graces the cover is embossed to replicate the texture of the hand-adzed cedar posts and beams of the Inn, hand carved by master carver Henry Nolla using traditional First nations tools.
The recipes are compiled from many of the chefs who have led The Point restaurant since 1996. From Chef Justin Labossiere’s Dungeness crab and mascarpone ravioli in saffron pasta, to Chef Matt Wilson’s Tuff Session Sourdough Bread and Chef Rod Butters’ shellfish potlatch. All recipes that you can now make in your home kitchen!
It’s this attention to detail and thoughtfulness to weave the history of the restaurant, the Inn, and the tiny surf town of Tofino, B.C. on the west coast of Vancouver Island, throughout the book that makes it so remarkable. The beautiful photography of Makito Inomata that flows alongside the recipes takes the book to a whole other level.
The cookbook also includes several cocktails that I’m dying to try as well—‘cedar-infused rye whisky’, ‘foraging through the woods’, ‘huckleberry liqueur’ spark instantly intrigued me. Not to mention, the last chapter of the cookbook, the Pantry, is a hidden gem. The Pantry details the vinegars, oils and preserves that are needed in some of the recipes. Leek oil, dill oil, strawberry jam, apple butter and cured egg yolks to name a few. For those that love to experiment in the kitchen, these pantry items are sure to inspire beyond the recipe they are called for.
Admittedly, I have yet to visit Tofino. It’s been on my wish list of places to see within Canada. After reading this cookbook, it’s definitely jumped up several spots on that list!
Recipes that have left me inspired to recreate, include:
Sunflower seed cheese
Mini beef tartare burgers
Root vegetable torte
BBQ beach oysters
At the top of the ‘I MUST TRY THIS!’ list was the salmon gravlax recipe, which is detailed below. I’ve never made gravlax before, but have been curious about it for a long time. You’ll find me eating smoked salmon almost every Saturday breakfast, served over grilled sourdough, an over easy egg and all the fixings—a little treat to kick start the weekend. For some reason I had it in my mind that gravlax would be difficult to tackle or turn out successfully. I always talked myself out of making it. However, it was surprising easy, and with a little planning ahead of time, really easy to make for a brunch gathering. Completely in love it the results.
Wickaninnish Salmon Gravlax
Picture British Columbia’s west coast and thoughts of salmon won’t be far behind. Executive Chef Barr’s recipe for a simple but flavourful gravlax makes the most of the bountiful and sustainable wild fish. Perfect for canapés or as part of a seafood charcuterie platter, this is one party dish you will make again and again.
1 cup (145 g) salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of ½ grapefruit
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp (5 g) toasted fennel seeds, crushed
2 sprigs dill, leaves only, chopped
1 side fresh coho or sockeye salmon
In a small non-reactive bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the salmon, and mix well. This is the cure.
Remove the pin bones from the salmon. Rub the cure onto both sides of the salmon, making sure the flesh is completely covered. (You may not use all of the cure mixture.) Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap and store on a tray in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours.
Rinse off the cure, then put the salmon back on the tray and leave it uncovered in the fridge to air-dry overnight.
Slice the salmon thinly, being sure to leave the skin behind. Serve with crackers, bread, cream cheese, capers, red onions, and pickles.
Excerpted from The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge by Joanne Sasvari. Copyright © 2018 Wickaninnish Inn. Photography © Makito Inomata. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.