Tofino is a tiny gem nestled on the west coast of Vancouver Island. With a population of a little under 3,000, it holds a mystic power that is said to date back thousands of years, when it was still named after a rear admiral in the Spanish Navy, the people of Nuu-Chah-nulth First Nations. They occupied the west coast of Vancouver Island for as long as 10,000 years and though their numbers have dwindled, many say the spirit of the Nuu_Chah-nulth First Nations still stand strong.
Upon arriving in Tofino, the first thing you'll notice are the majestic Elk Street Cedars and Hanging Garden Trees that endlessly span from corner to corner. Their towering heights envelop the senses with whispers of light and sound, the feel of soft moss spreading over the floors and surfaces, the smell of of earth, and salt, and musk -- it entrances you into believing that something spiritual is here.
These moments often remind me of our insignificance. It was nice to actually feel this intrinsic connection to the Earth, that all around us, things are constantly changing, and growing. Though this feeling should be part of our conscious awareness, it can easily be swept beneath our daily worries.
Our hosts in Tofino had a beautiful home nestled in Cedarwood Cove. The water from the cove would recede during mid afternoon, exposing the muddy crevices that lied beneath. It's a big win for birds during that time and according to our hosts, even better for mud races. Obviously our group couldn't resist, (honestly how much more competitive can you get) and literally dived in. Certainly the skinniest one with the largest feet had an advantage. I wasted most of my energy laughing to the point of tears. During our stay we did plenty of hiking, a little yoga but my favorite was scourging secret beaches for driftwood and surfers. A weird combination, but both things fascinate me. The driftwood infatuation will be saved for another day.
Tofino is a mecca for surfers. During tourist season, it takes on an entire surfing culture. People of all ages, with a shared passion for sun, waves and adrenaline, fills the town to the brim. When they're not gathered at the beach, they're gathered at their favorite food spot.
I've always found surfers fascinating. It's such an intuitive sport. How many years does it take to finally learn the rhythm of the ocean? How many falls would you need to learn how to carve the wave to your demand? And what a feeling it must be, to be that in tune with nature, and feeling the collective energy of Earth's elements towering around you. And yeah, the hot bods and nice tans aren't too bad either.
This recipe was inspired by a dish we had at a great local restaurant called Shelter. It had everything I'd want in a dish -- colorful, healthy, and packed with flavor and texture. I'd imagine it's what the surfer's would eat after a long day of "wave catching" and it's what I want to eat like all the time.
Feel free to make larger batches of the slaw -- it goes great on tacos and sandwiches!
TOFINO SURF BOWL
You can omit the yogurt to make this a paleo friend recipe!
(makes 2 servings)
- 1/2 c red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 c green cabbage, thinly sliced
- handful of cilantro, minced
- 1/2 lime, squeezed
- pinch of salt and pepper
Combine in a bowl and toss. Cover, set aside and refrigerate until ready for use.
- 1/2 cup of 2% or fat free/whole greek yogurt
- 1 TB of korean chili paste or goochujang
Combine in a bowl and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Cover, set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.
Wild Rice Blend:
- 2 cups of cooked wild rice or brown rice (use rice cooker or follow directions on package)
- 1 TB peanut oil
- couple 1/4" slices of ginger, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4-5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (you can also used dried, just rehydrate before use)
- 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
- 2 cups of chopped kale, ribs removed
- 2 spoonfuls of soy sauce
- 1 spoonful of cooking wine
- a drizzle of sesame oil
Heat oil in skillet or pan over medium high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add ginger, kale and carrot and saute until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce and cooking wine. Cook until most of the liquid is soaked up, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil. Set aside until ready to serve.
- 2 6oz salmon fillet
- 2 TB of butter
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- sesame seeds
Make sure salmon is dry on both sides before frying. (You can pat dry with paper towels) In a skillet or pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle the top side of the salmon fillet evenly with salt and pepper. Sear skin side down for a minute and reduce heat to medium. Cook until skin begins to crisp up, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on the other side for 6-8 minutes, until 3/4 of the way cooked through. The temperature should read around 145 F. Remove and set on a plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if preferred.
Grab a deeper set or wider-mouthed bowl to plate. Place rice down first as the base. Spoon stir fry to one side and the slaw on the other. Top with salmon fillet and serve with a dollop of spicy yogurt and garnish with fresh herbs.