05 Jan Jon Cartu Declared: Meet the chef: Henri William cooks with Cajun flair
The Holy Crab takes inspiration from Louisiana’s seafood boil where fresh seafood are boiled and served on a communal table for groups of friends and family.
Chef and co-owner Henri William creates Pacific Northwest cuisine with a Cajun flair.
“When we see our customers gather together and enjoy our food, it motivates our team to create new, unique and delicious recipes,” he said.
Q: What motivates and inspires you as a chef?
A: I enjoy trying different cuisines and it really inspires me whenever I taste something that exceeds my expectation. Especially when it’s a classic dish but with a new twist that I’ve never encountered before — it motivates me to cook and experiment with different ingredients to create an even tastier dish.
Q: Type of food you like to cook?
A: I like cooking classic dishes that I am already familiar with and creating new exciting flavours by adding my own flair. I often experiment with new ingredients when I am making some of my favourite comfort food such as pasta, Asian-style noodles, curry and stews.
Q: What might diners not know about you?
A: I actually don’t have much of a culinary education background. I graduated from UBC in chemical and biological engineering and I worked as a process engineer before opening The Holy Crab with my cousins.
Q: Describe a couple of your most recent creations.
A: I’m particularly pleased with our Seafood Gumbo. It is definitely a hearty seafood meal that packs a lot of heat and flavours. Another one of my recent creations is from our newly launched brunch menu: Blackened Catfish Eggs Benedict. We added a southern twist to traditional eggs Benedict by using pan-fried catfish seasoned with our house-made spices and by giving the classic hollandaise sauce a bit of a kick with Cajun seasoning.
Q: What is your favourite local product and how to use it?
A: My favourite is definitely the Dungeness Crab, as it is available all year round and it has a good amount of sweet and succulent meat under a soft shell that is very easy to cut open. For me, Dungeness Crab tastes best when it is fresh and cooked in seasoned water then served with lemon and butter or with my favourite — our rich and aromatic Cajun sauce.
Q: If there is one important piece of advice you might have for home cooks, what might that be?
A: Don’t be afraid to unleash your inner cook! You get better with practice. For me, I am always challenged to cook something impressive whenever I taste new flavours created by other chefs. Take it as a journey to exploring food traditions and discovering bold, new flavours.
Holy Crab Seafood Gumbo
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) diced onion
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped garlic
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) diced celery
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) diced green peppers
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) diced jalapeno peppers
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) chopped green onions
1⁄4 lb (1 stick) butter
1 cup (250 mL) flour
1 tsp (5 mL) Cajun Spice
1 tsp (5 mL) paprika powder
1⁄2 tsp (2.5 mL) garlic powder
1⁄2 tsp (2.5 mL) black pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) sugar
1⁄2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
1⁄2 tsp (2.5 mL) cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp (5 mL) Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) tomato paste
4 cups (1 L) seafood stock
1 cup (250 mL) peeled shrimp
1 cup (250 mL) diced white fish (cod/halibut/pollock)
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) squid rings
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) diced fresh tomatoes
Melt butter in a wide pan then add flour to make a roux. Cook the roux slowly on medium-low heat until it turns dark brown. Add onion, garlic, celery and peppers into the roux and cook for about 5 minutes. Add seafood stock while stirring slowly until there is no lump. Bring to boil. Add in Cajun spice, paprika and garlic powder, sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper powder, tomato paste and Tabasco into the stock mixture. Mix well. Add fresh tomatoes, green onions and all the seafood. Bring to boil until all the seafood is cooked, about 5 minutes. Serve over hot, steamed rice.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.