Trendy Ingredients: Skin

 It started innocently. Jefferson Alvarez, a chef with a predilection for modernist techniques (he worked at Arzak in Spain) was cleaning the skin of a local sturgeon and noticed it had many of the same properties as pig skin: it was thick and fatty, with a healthy amount of collagen. His no-waste reflex kicked in and he started to play. Could the same technique that yielded crisp, puffy chicharrón (deep-fried pork skin) work with fish? “We tried it with salmon and halibut, but the flavours were overwhelmingly fishy. Sturgeon just had this beautiful, clean taste. It stands up to smoking, the bones melt down nicely-it’s a fabulous local product that’s shamefully neglected.” Photos: Carlo Ricci, Illustrations: Claire McCracken





Pan-fried local smoked sturgeon is served with a crisp but meltingly salty piece of its own puffed skin. At the bar, chef Alvarez offers a chorus line of puffed snacks-cheese for vegetarians; pork, beef tendon, and surgeon for meat lovers-to accompany bracing cocktails





At Gastown’s L’Abattoir, chef Lee Humphries offers escargot and crispy chicken skin with scrambled eggs and persillade. The secret to the killer porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread? Crackling chicharrón, which adds textural intrigue to the jiggly slices of pork


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