Community Papers

FACE TO FACE: A delicious bounty awaits under the sea

Tsawwassen’s David Hoar is co-author of the cookbook Cooks Afloat!, which incorporates many ingredients found in the waters of the B.C. coast.   - Robert Mangelsdorf
Tsawwassen’s David Hoar is co-author of the cookbook Cooks Afloat!, which incorporates many ingredients found in the waters of the B.C. coast.
— image credit: Robert Mangelsdorf

It’s no secret that the blue waters that surround South Delta offer a bounty of delicious seafood. But according to local cookbook author David Hoar, that seafood needn’t be limited to fish and shellfish.

Hoar and his wife Noreen Rudd are featured presenters at the annual Vancouver International Boat Show, which runs until Sunday, Jan. 26. Authors of Cooks Afloat! and Grilling & Beyond, the couple has spent more than 20 years cruising B.C.’s coastal waters, all the while experimenting with the gastronomic delights it contains. The couple, who live in Tsawwassen when not on their 42-foot trawler Pacific Sapphire, will be sharing their knowledge with their seminar, “Catching, Harvesting and Cooking with Bounty from the Sea.”

Hoar is a retired molecular biologist and grew up on the water with his father, who was a biologist with UBC. Hoar, himself, worked with the department of Fisheries and Oceans, and after their careers took the couple to Calgary, the two decided to move back to the coast in 1991 upon their retirement and spend much of their time on their trawler.

“There were so many places up the coast I wanted to see, and the only way to do it is by boat,” he says.

The couple typically leave dry land behind in May and don’t return until September, so learning to cook with what’s at hand is a necessity.

“When you start out boating, you put out a crab trap, but you don’t know what to do with it,” says Hoar. “But we’re always experimenting with what we find.”

While it might not be the first thing people think of when they consider seafood, seaweed and aquatic plants are both nutritious and delicious says Hoar. One of his favorites is bull kelp, which he turns into a pickled relish, while the leafy macrocystis kelp can be dried and baked into a crispy chip-like snack. Sea lettuce, as its name implies, goes great in a salad.

One recipe involves a chocolate pudding thickened with potassium alginate derived from the giant kelp.

And foodies are taking notice. Abundant West Coast plants like sea asparagus and goose tongue greens are now appearing some of the trendier grocery stores, Hoar notes.

Over the years, Hoar and Reed refined how they processed, cooked, and preserved what they caught. While Hoar admits he likes “fly by the seat of his pants” in the kitchen, Reed, a former physician, began studiously compiling the couple’s recipes and cooking techniques.

“Other boaters were always asking us for a copy of our recipes, so we decided we would take it to a publisher,” says Hoar.

The result was Cooks Afloat!, which was first published in 2001, and is available from Harbour Publishing at

• The Vancouver International Boat Show runs until Jan. 26 at BC Place and Granville Island.

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