When Chef Will Lew started planning his special menu items for the Dine About component of Richmond’s new Steveston Spot Prawn and Seafood Celebration, he faced a couple of key challenges.

Firstly, the Club Versante executive chef had to create enticing pop-up dishes for all three of the restaurants attached to Richmond’s swish Versante Hotel. And secondly, his deep affinity for B.C.’s sustainable seafood meant he had almost limitless ideas swimming around in his mind.

“We’re so lucky to have the world’s finest fish and seafood delicacies available right here on our doorstep,” says Chef Lew. “And it’s great to have a positive new event like the Seafood Celebration where we can all show our appreciation and passion for it.”

Spot prawns and more

The city’s inaugural Steveston Spot Prawn and Seafood Celebration, which started on May 6, includes fresh-catch spot prawn sales at Fisherman’s Wharf in Steveston Village plus on-stage expert cooking demonstrations at the nearby Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site on May 21 and 22.

But savvy seafood fans are also licking their lips–and booking their tables–for the event’s Dine About element, where a dozen or so Richmond restaurants are serving special sea-to-table dishes showcasing B.C.’s unrivalled ocean bounty. Running May 18 to June 5, each restaurant’s Dine About options are distinctly different–but the region’s highly cherished spot prawns are the star attraction.

Photo credit: Tourism Richmond

On the menus

With three eateries to plan for, Chef Lew is taking more than one approach. At Bruno–the Versante Hotel’s classy flagship restaurant – he’s created a mouthwatering spot prawn and wild pink scallop pappardelle served with sea asparagus, saffron lobster nage and more.

At Oo La Cha–a seafood-forward eatery that echoes the feel of dining on a private Mediterranean yacht–the Dine About dish is an intriguing dry aged spot prawn crudo where the dry-aging process concentrates and heightens the flavour. It’s served with salmon roe and brule’ Guanciale cured pork cheek.

At Cask Whisky Vault, which has the ambiance of an intimate Tokyo bar, Chef Lew has created two special dishes. One takes a finger-licking skewered approach to spot prawns (Kurobuta pork included), while the other features perfectly prepared sea-salt-seared spot prawns. Both are ideal accompaniments to the Vault’s revered beverage menu.

“Spot prawns are one of the West Coast’s most delicious and sustainable seafoods,” says Chef Lew, who also loves working with local halibut, black cod and a wide array of B.C. bivalves–plus an unexpected marine ingredient that might surprise some diners. “Pickled kelp is one of my favourite ingredients on Earth. It’s a restorative species that does so much for us–prawns eat kelp–so I’ll also be celebrating it by including it with my crudo dish.”

Chefs celebrate

Also excited to be participating in the first-ever Dine About is Shane Dagan, owner of the beloved Steveston Seafood House restaurant. A restaurateur with a deep-rooted dedication to B.C.’s marine ingredients, he’s spent years living and working alongside the region’s tough-as-nails fishers.

“We’re so grateful for the relationships we’ve formed with local fisherman,” says Dagan, adding that the Seafood Celebration is a chance for everyone to come out and thank the hardworking West Coast fishing industry. “During spot prawn season, our kitchen team will be at the docks with their buckets every day buying what we regard as the jewel of the Pacific Northwest.”

Photo credit: Tourism Richmond

Under head chef Sushila Narain, the Steveston Seafood House will be offering a series of ever-changing spot prawn specials throughout Dine About. But while some dishes are more elaborate than others–Chef Sushila has been working with B.C. seafood for four decades and knows countless ways to prepare these sweet treats–a simple approach never fails, according to Dagan.

“There are many fancy ways to cook spot prawns. But our favourite is to simply grill on the barbecue with a dash of paprika and drawn butter. Then just peel and eat,” he says, adding that the restaurant will also be showcasing a wide array of other local seafood during Dine About, including Dungeness crab.

Beer forward

Nearby, Britannia Brewing’s ever-welcoming restaurant–where elevated pub grub jostles for taste-bud attention with delicious Richmond-made beers–is also ready for the Seafood Celebration. And while fish and chips is a permanent favourite here, Chef Vincent Chen has planned a special pan-seared smoked butter beurre blanc spot prawn dish for Dine About.

Photo credit: Tourism Richmond

B.C. crustaceans are just one of many local seafood ingredients Chef Chen loves working with, though. “Sockeye salmon, sablefish, mussels, halibut, rockfish, albacore tuna, crab–the list goes on!” he says when asked to name his favourite regional ocean ingredients. “We’re spoiled for world class seafood here. And with Steveston being right on the wharf, we have amazing access to the freshest catches straight from the fishermen.”

Since craft beer is also a must-try at Britannia Brewing, Chef Chen also has the perfect beer-pairing recommendation for those sampling his Dine About special. “Our Blonde Ale is a great accompaniment to most seafood, with its floral citrus aromas and dry refreshing finish,” he says, before adding his own handy tip for those inspired to prepare their own B.C. spot prawns at home: “Cook them whole in the shell–they’re juicier and much more flavourful that way.”

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Tourism Richmond