A few years ago I was really privileged to be asked to attend a research trip to Vancouver. I had been to Vancouver before many years ago, and I really loved it. However it was a very brief weekend, which when you are flying across the country means you can only take in so much. This time around we were going for just shy of a week, so more time to explore. I was very excited, like my home of Nova Scotia, the West Coast of the country is also famous for its seafood. Albeit, while in the East Coast we are fond of our chowders and grilling/smoking, on the West Coast you are more likely to find yourself tucking into smoked salmon in sushi than on a bagel.
Safe to say, the visit had me falling in love with the other coast. The vibrant mix of cultures, the amazing scenery and of course everyone being slightly more relaxed than you find people in cities like Toronto or Calgary. I think it must have something to do with being next to the ocean. Although, it is safe to say that Vancouverites would not be as laid back as their counterparts on the east coast of Canada.
Anyway, one day I was walking with my colleagues into the area of Vancouver called Gastown. It is a cool place, that seemed like it had reached the stage in its development where it has surpassed being the hip trendy area and now people attempt to move and visit there because it was hip and trendy. I could be wrong, but that was the sense.
In any case, we were hungry so we hopped into a restaurant for some lunch. Nothing particularly special about this place, just a pub/restaurant on the corner of a busy street. Slightly peckish, but craving seafood, I ordered a bowl of penne with smoked salmon. It came, I ate it, but I was left feeling like I could make a better version. When I got back home, I set about doing just that. So here is my creamy smoked salmon pasta.
Key rule of thumb, the quality of the smoked salmon is the crucial to this dish.
The ingredients are incredibly simple. You need good pasta, good smoked salmon, full fat cream cheese, dill, maple syrup and some chicken stock. You may also want some salt, or if you have it some dried dulse (extra taste of the ocean). You cook the pasta until it is just to the point of al-dente, in the mean time your carefully slice your salmon into strips (or flake it depending on the fish). When you noodles are ready, strain it and set aside. In the pasta pot, place your cream cheese and slowly heat, gradually add chicken stock to turn the entire concoction into a delicious sauce of your chosen consistency. Add the salmon and the pasta, mixing to ensure everything is covered. Finally, a quick drizzle of maple syrup and severe with the dill sprinkled on top.
The end result is a delicious, and quick, lunch. Goes really well with white wine, or maybe a lighter style beer.