Trendy Ingredients: Spice Mixes

September 11, 2013

For Joël Watanabe-who turns out a heady mix of Shanghainese, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese dishes from the kitchen at Bao Bei-even side dishes are stars. "As a kid my mom would sprinkle gomashio [toasted sesame seeds ground with salt] over cold, blanched spinach. I started thinking of a way to modernize the dish. I was seeing za'atar [a Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame, and sumac] on a lot of menus, and I connected its bright, complex spice with that taste from childhood. ­Sumac has a lemony warmth and great acidity, cumin brings in the western Chinese flavours, so I came up with a dish that tied it all together." Photos: Carlo Ricci, Illustrations: Claire McCracken

 

 

BAO BEI

 

THE DISH

Crunchy water spinach is blanched in chicken stock, garlic, Thai chili, and imported white soy sauce ("for that umami hit"), sprinkled with barely cooked sea asparagus for a textural boost, and topped with Watanabe's take on za'atar 

 

   

WHO ELSE IS IN THE KNOW?

At chef Marc-André Choquette's Homer St. Café and Bar, a seriously gorgeous new room, rotisserie chicken is rubbed with an ever-changing mix of signature spices including za'atar; on East Hastings, humble Palestinian mom 'n' pop shop Tamam takes a more orthodox approach

 

More Trendy Ingredients: Fabulous ferments

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.