I never paid much attention to canola before. It was an all-purpose oil my parents often used and I knew it from the bottle that sat on the counter.
I never paid much attention to canola until I lived in Manitoba and drove past fields of bright yellow and had no idea what on earth it was. It wasn’t corn, it wasn’t wheat, it wasn’t a field slathered in butter, it wasn’t anything I recall seeing growing in a field. It turns out they were canola fields and the flowers were blooming…and they were stunningly bright and beautiful.
I attended a Be Well Canola Camp in the fall of 2014 and got to spend time on Manitoba farms learning about how crops are grown and harvested. I associated canola heavily with my memories of living in Manitoba, so I was thrilled to be asked to host the Eat Well Culinary Workshop: The Classics for the Canola Growers. Chef Matt Dean Pettit of Rock Lobster had just returned from Thailand and created a menu inspired by the flavours and fresh seafood from his travels. The intimate dinner was held at the stunning Luxe Appliance Studio (334 King St. East) which gave everyone intense kitchen-envy.
A small group of new and old social media friends took part in an interactive and delicious evening of preparing an amazing feast under the guidance of Matt. The theme was a Classic Fish Fry and no one was afraid to stand over a giant pot of bubbling oil to make dinner. French fries and fresh smelts were going to take a hot oil bath (great for fish, not great for humans). Matt said he prefers using canola oil for it’s high smoke point and mild flavour.
A crowd favourite was definitely the R&D curry crab; stir fried blue crabs with turmeric, yellow curry, chilies egg and coconut milk. But the real show-stopper that had everyone oohing and ahhing was the Pla Pao; a thai-style grilled salt-crusted red snapper with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, basil-infused canola oil and nam chin seafood.
Thanks to everyone for taking part and to the Canola Growers for a hands-on learning and eating session. I recently learned that canola is grown across Canada by over 50,000 farmers, so it’s a great affordable and versatile oil that supports Canadian farmers.