From sea cucumber to carp roe, Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar celebrates lesser known sustainable seafoods

The Yaletown restaurant hosts its 14th annual Unsung Heroes Festival, which puts the focus on overlooked Ocean Wise fish and seafood

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      Slipper limpet, sea snails, jellyfish, and crayfish: as we learn more about sustainable seafood choices, people come up with all sorts of creative new ways to prepare them.

      Every February, Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar dives deep in to the world of lesser known and often overlooked seafood with its Unsung Heroes Festival.

      Designed to educate diners and give them a taste of alternative sustainable choices, the fest supports the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, with a 10 percent contribution of proceeds. (Blue Water was a founding member of the initiative.)

      Executive chef Frank Pabst has created a menu of more than a dozen dishes that are meant to be shared, family-style, each one using an underutilized species. It's all with an eye to steer diners away from species that are overfished or harvested in ways that can damage ocean beds and to introduce people to new flavours. Each item can be paired with a wine or sake selected by William Mulholldan, the restaurant’s wine director.

      There’s a sturgeon-liver pâté, crispy smelt tacos, and a “hot dog” made of sea-urchin roe served on a nori bun.

      Here are a few other examples of the items on offer:

      - Periwinkles “Pick & Eat”, the meaty intertidal snails boiled in kombu broth with green algae and jalapeno aioli.

      - Jelly fish “Kimchi”, a Napa-cabbage roll with jellyfish, kimchi, braised chicken, green onion, carrot, and cucumber.
      - Crayfish “Cappuccino”, made from invasive crayfish and topped with a warm Vichyssoise foam.

      - Octopus “Bolognese”, a ragu of octopus and pork belly served over squid-ink fettuccini.

      - Whelk “Au Gratin”, the poached sea snails mixed with B.C. endives and slow-cooked ham in a Mornay sauce

      - Slipper Limpet “Paella”, the sea snails tossed with green chickepeas and tomatoe in bomba rice cooked with saffron. 

      Unsung Heroes, now in its 14th year, runs until February 27. More details are at  Blue Water Cafe.


      Places to go nearby

      Approx. 15 minutes away