West Coast Recipes – Part One

West Coast Recipes – Part One


I thought this might be interesting for people in other parts of the world who read this website. There are many food recipes associated with the West Coast of Canada and USA – many from the First Nations people, and many from the residents be they mariners, lighthouse keepers, villagers, prospectors, hunters or others. I will try and see what I can find. I will try and post about five (5) recipes per post. If others have any contributions, please pass them on. Full credit will be given.


One recipe I have posted can be found here: Thomas Crosby Muffins. Also a book was written about British Columbia lighthouses called The Lighthouse Cookbook by Anita Stewart. It is an excellent book and is available from Amazon.com.



1. Salmon Fish Cakes

Now this is one of the simplest recipes to make, and I learned about making them from my wife Karen who’s father used to cook them while out on the West Coast fishing for salmon. His recipe was pretty simple: Use whatever is available! Take some leftover cooked salmon, mix it about half and half with some leftover cooked potatoes, throw in an egg to help hold it together and season with salt and pepper. If available, add a few chopped green onions. Make into patties and fry in one-quarter inch (1/4″) oil, flipping once until brown on both sides. Serve with whatever condiment is available – lemons and/or ketchup.  Enjoy!

Below is a more cookbook style of making the same thing:

Salmon Fish Cakes

1 1/4 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 lb salmon fillets, skin on, scaled and bones removed (or in a pinch try using 2 cans of Clover Leaf’s canned boneless/skinless salmon)

olive oil

small bunch of fresh parsley

1 tbsp all purpose flour; plus extra for dusting

1 large egg

2 lemons

Get a big pot of water with a pinch of salt boiling on the stove. Add your potatoes and bring the water back to the boil.

Take your salmon and drizzle it with some olive oil, then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Place it in a metal colander and place it over the pan of potatoes. Cover the top with tin foil to keep the heat in.

Reduce the heat a big and cook for about 10 minutes until the fish is steamed through and the potatoes are tender. Remove the fish to a plate; set aside. Drain the potatoes, then put them back into the pot and let them steam dry. Mash them well. To cool them quickly, I transferred the mashed potatoes to a plate and set them in the fridge while I continued with the recipe.

Remove the skin from the fish and flake it up. Let it cool, and when the fish and potatoes are completely cool add the fish into the potatoes with the tablespoon of flour, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and zest the lemon over top. Mix it all together well.

Dust your work surface with flour, and shape your mixture into 8 portions. Shape each into patties, dusting with flour as you go and setting on a flour dusted pan. Once they are all formed let them chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Fry up your fish cakes in some olive oil over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side. They will become crispy and golden, and smell like fish and chips. Serve them with some salad or veggies. They are delicious with slices of lemon to squeeze over top.

Makes 8 fish cakes, or 4 servings. –  Fish Recipe: Salmon Fish Cakes


2. Planked Salmon

While we are on the subject of salmon, let’s talk about the First Nations’s method for cooking fish. There are many other recipes, but this is done without a barbecue (BBQ).

Long before European settlers came ashore, Indian tribes throughout the country were roasting fish on aromatic planks of wood — salmon in the Pacific Northwest, shad on the East Coast, whitefish in the Central Plains. They would split the fish, secure it skin-side down to a wood plank and place the plank vertically, facing the fire but outside the fire ring, to slowly cook. – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavour

As the fish cooks, drizzle over the fish at intervals a marinade of melted butter with a bit of lemon and orange juice added. and seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s not as glamorous as using a BBQ but it is simple and delicious!


3. Smoked Salmon

One thing everybody learns to do while living on the West Coast is to smoke fish – especially Salmon. Basically the process is very simple – brine the fish, dry the fish, smoke the fish, eat the fish. That’s it!

Basic brine (you can experiment later):

4 cups water

1 cup kosher salt (non-iodized and large grain)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns

2 large salmon fillets, bones removed (skin removed)

Prepare this brine by mixing all together. Drop your fish fillets into the brine and make sure they are all covered. Let soak in the fridge for one to four (1 to 4) hours depending on thickness.

Remove, rinse lightly, dry completely with paper towels, and place on a rack with lots of air circulation in a cool dry place. I often used the fridge again. Dry the fillets this way until a dry somewhat sticky skin forms over the flesh – this is called the pellicle and is necessary to help the smoke adhere to the fillets.

Brinkmann SmokeNgrill

Next fire up your smoker (even a BBQ will work in an emergency), keep the heat as low as you can – you want LOTS of smoke! This is called cold smoking. Smoke the fillets for one to four (1 to 4) hours depending on the taste required. You can sample at any time after one hour! 

This is the basic instructions. For more information consult your smoker manual or the internet or a good smoking book. My recommended smoker on the left – Brinkmann Smoke’N Grill which doubles as a BBQ when you are not smoking.


4. Garlic Naan Bread

1 package yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
4-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp garlic
1/4 cup butter

Check that the yeast works by adding it to the warm water and watching for bubbles or foam to form.
Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, flour, and garlic (if desired)
Knead 6-8 minutes, then cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Maybe go check on your lab experiments, or take a walk on the foreshore.
Flatten golf ball-sized balls of dough as flat as you can, either by punching it flat or using a rolling pin (or if you don’t have one in your variably stocked kitchen, a chilled wine bottle, non-chilled wine bottle, water bottle, or other cylindrical object works just fine).
Heat a skillet to medium heat and melt butter in it. Add a flattened piece of naan and cook, frequently checking the underside for doneness (golden brown or brown spots–no charring!). – Recipes from Bamfield


5. Kettle Corn

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, stir in the sugar and popcorn. Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps. – Recipes from Bamfield


That is it for this part. I hope you enjoyed the recipes and I hope you will get to try some of them. More to come in Part Two, and also hopefully from some of the readers. 


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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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