Sushi, sashimi, tartare, crudo, carpaccio and ceviche. Raw dishes from many cuisines have made it into the mainstream and have become a regular part of our diet. But, as commonplace and popular as both small family-run and elevated or modern Asian restaurants are in Canada, there are some traditional dishes that we don’t see much of, or at all, on menus here. Here are four you may not know about.
Vietnamese raw beef salad (Bò Tái Chanh)
Pho fans know the classic pho, made with raw beef and bean sprouts in a rich beef broth.
But have you tried raw beef salad? Sliced raw beef is dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and chilies, and topped with peanuts and aromatics like basil, cilantro, mint, scallions or onions and fried garlic bits.
This can probably the most easy-to-find dish on the lot. Hai Phong in Vancouver serves it, Raw Bar in Calgary does an elevated version of this, and many Vietnamese restaurants in Toronto have it on their menus. Look for it next time.
Photo by pengrin on Flickr.
Korean raw marinated crab (ganjang gejang)
If you have been to Korean-Japanese sushi restaurants, you may recognize the dish of raw fish over rice as hoedeopbap (or hwedupbap or hwe dup bap) but there is a lesser known raw seafood dish that you may not have tried: ganjang gejang, or raw marinated crabs that are eaten with rice. Raw female crabs (with roe) are cut into pieces and marinated in a brine that often includes onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, kelp, soy sauce and and apple. The crabs are then marinated for about 24 hours. They should be eaten within 3 days.
You can find this dish at Jung Soo Nae in Toronto.
Photo by shizu k on Flickr.
Thai raw shrimp (Gung Chae Nam Pla)
Most of us associate Thai food in North America with curries and noodles, but in Thailand, you’ll find this raw shrimp dish in many restaurants. Shrimps are peeled (keeping a bit of the shell on the tail), butterflied, drizzled with a mixture of chilies, garlic, sugar, coriander root and fish sauce, and then topped with mint.
Royal Orchard Thai Cuisine in Richmond Hill (north of Toronto) in Ontario is the only place we've seen it in Canada.
Photo by Kirk K on Flickr.
Japanese raw chicken (Torisashi)
This dish goes against every warning, and even common sense, about cooking poultry to a safe internal temperature. Served with ginger, lemon, soy and vinegar, raw chicken is a relatively popular dish at specialized restaurants in Japan and is only made with the freshest chickens from small farms, raised and killed with very specific and strict practices.
Don't expect to see this on menus in Canada anytime soon. At the moment, you'll have to head to Ippuku in California for this.
Photo by Hirotomo OI on Flickr.