The Dirty Apron Cooking School has taught thousands of people to cook from its Chinatown location in Vancouver, British Columbia. To expand that reach, co-owner and chef David Robertson released the bestselling “The Dirty Apron Cookbook” in 2015, and will soon release his followup, “Gather.”
After the success of the first cookbook, Robertson said he knew he’d be back putting together another rendition, this time with a focus on how he personally chooses to cook, eat and enjoy his food.
“Throughout the book you’ll see pictures of me with my family, eating some of the foods we enjoy eating and sharing together,” he says of the bright, colorful and exceedingly helpful cookbook. “I hope that the book will inspire its readers to want to use food as a medium to get together with others and share a meal.”
The book publishes Oct. 22 in the States, a love letter to West Coast fare that comes second nature to Robertson. “Although I was born in Toronto, I have lived almost my entire life on the West Coast, the food of the Pacific Northwest is what I grew up on,” the chef says. “It feels like it’s become so much of who I am and what I like, that it would be hard to not have it reflected in this book… Simply put: most of the recipes in ‘Gather’ are recipes with ingredients available within a stone’s throw from these beautiful stomping grounds of mine.”
Keeping it simple from sandwich and salad to a more fine-dining approach, “Gather” has a little something for every home cook, including advantageous tidbits like how and when to shop for fish. In this recipe for poached smoked sablefish, he classes up an already-prepared fish — Robertson adds that smoked sablefish can be found at a local fish monger, usually smoked by them firsthand. For the crab addition, he spikes the dish with dry vermouth.
“What I like about vermouth is that you can use it in place of white wine,” he adds. “Being a fortified wine infused with beautiful herbs, it can add a distinct flavor to any dish… As for this in particular, the herbal flavors of the vermouth are what make this dish just excellent.”
According to Robertson, the key to poaching is slow and low as you do not want the liquid to boil. “Give it time and you will get beautiful results,” the chef writes in his book. “Poaching also balances out the smokiness of the sablefish, which can get a little salty.”
Poached Smoked Sablefish with Tarragon Butter Crab
For the poached smoked sablefish:
3 cups milk
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 (3-oz) smoked sablefish fillets
In a saucepan, combine milk, thyme, bay leaves and garlic and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low, then add sablefish and poach for 6 to 8 minutes, until fish is tender. Set aside.
For the tarragon-butter crab:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons vermouth
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces fresh crabmeat, picked of shells and cartilage
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté for 2 minutes. Add vermouth and lemon juice and cook for another minute. Pour in cream, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, until reduced by half. Stir in crabmeat and fresh herbs and simmer for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To assemble the dish, spoon the tarragon-butter crab into the center of each plate and stack sablefish fillets on top. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from “Gather” by David Robertson. Photographs by Kevin Clark. Copyright 2019 by The Dirty Apron Cooking School. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.