The Kilted Chef, Alain Boose, in conjunction with Parks Canada at Kejimkujik National Seaside Park, recently hosted Savour the Seaside. The hero of the lunchtime event was a Nova Scotia seafood boil-up featuring fresh seafood caught off the coast of Nova Scotia.
The two-hour drive to Keji Seaside was uneventful, and we arrived well in time for the kick-off of the cooking workshop beginning at 11 am. Initially, lunch was to be cooked and served on the beach. However, the weather gods did not cooperate. We have a saying in Nova Scotia – wait a minute and the weather will change. However, all was not lost. We still got to experience the great outdoors on an open gazebo a little way from the beach. Our relocation did not detract one bit from our delicious lunch, prepared outdoors will all of the diners taking part in the preparation.
The broth of our boil-up featured green soft-shelled crabs, known to be both invasive and cannibalistic. Doesn’t that sound a little scary! For the past number of years, Parks Canada and the federal Department of Fisheries have been working to bring these crabs from the ocean to the table. Before putting them into the pot, we got to see the crabs up close and personal.
As you can see from this photo, it would be difficult to get the meat out of these crabs to eat, but they make the perfect base for a rich, tasty, seafood broth. (BTW- The Koreans love crab, but I was always put off by how much work it took to get to the crab meat, even though I love the flavour. Plus, the Koreans love to smother the crab in a hot spicy sauce. It was very easy to ruin a good blouse or shirt for a little bit of crab meat!)
The Kilted Chef
In this video, Alain is explaining what is going to happen during the cook and the origins of the seafood boil-up. (I am not a video editing wizard!)
Alain and his assistant preparing the humungous cooking pot for the crabs. When you’re cooking for 70 hungry diners this is the answer.
The crabs were boiled in fresh water for approximately 30 minutes (maybe a little longer), and this is the finished product. Notice the green tinge to the broth (which smelled awesome!).
Then it was time to build the flavour of that pungent smelling broth. Butter, onions, diced carrot and celery, sausage, and bacon were added to the pot. along with a bag of Alain’s secret spice mixture. The spices gave the broth a nice bite, without making the seafood too spicy.
The green crab broth was added back into the pot, and it was given some time to simmer. Then, the fresh seafood was layered into the pot. This included live lobster, king crab legs, mussels, and clams. Getting the live lobster into the pot was a little nerve-wracking for some because the elastic had to be removed from the claws before adding the lobsters to the pot. No one wanted to end up with their fingers or hands being lunch for a lobster! Diners were encouraged and welcomed to participate in the preparation and cooking.
Once the seafood was safely in the pot, the vegetables, including carrots, small new potatoes (the best!), and fresh corn on the cob, were added a layer at a time. The pot was finished off with a carpet of fresh yellow and green beans. In under an hour, Alain and his assistants were scooping out freshly cooked seafood and veggies to feed the hungry diners.
It was time to eat! I could feel the anticipation in the air as we lined up to enjoy the perfectly cooked tasty morsels of seafood and vegetables. The utensils and the serving bowls were all environmentally friendly. I think they were made from bamboo. The seafood was flavourful and succulent, and the vegetables were garden fresh and perfectly cooked. Most of us went back for second and even third helpings. The origins of this boil-up are in Georgia and Louisiana. When the Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia in the 1700s many of them ended up in Louisiana. Today, there continues a strong bond between the Nova Scotia Acadians and the Louisianna Acadians.
Other food and beverage companies were also on site providing samples of cider and wine made in Nova Scotia. There was also a lady with mini doughnuts. You coated the doughnut with a bit of sweet syrup and then roasted it over an open fire. Fantastic dessert! Sorry, no photos. I was bewitched by the seafood.
If you’re visiting Nova Scotia, add Keji Seaside to your itinerary. If you’re driving from Halifax, it’s a two-hour drive up Highway 103.
Are you heading to Prince Edward Island after Nova Scotia? Be sure to check out these PEI restaurants.
What’s your favourite seafood? Let us know in the comments.