Faraway flavours inspire chef Nico Schuermans's must-try dish
Vancouver restaurant Chambar is known for beer and mussels but chef says lamb tagine is must-try
Vancouver's Chambar restaurant is known for its Belgian beers and mussels but chef and owner Nico Schuermans is passionate about something else on his menu — the lamb tagine.
"It's been on the menu from day one," he said about the popular dish. "It's been sold out 90 per cent of the time."
He says the Tajine D'aziz à L'agneau is a Schuermans original but as its name divulges, the Belgian and French trained chef took inspiration from elsewhere.
Years ago, when he moved to Sydney from London after cooking at the Savoy, he landed in the kitchen of a Moroccan restaurant.
There, he said chef Aziz Bakalla introduced him to the rainbow of spices that are used throughout his menu today, many of which are layered into Schuermans lamb tagine.
"The first flavour, the turmeric is pretty strong — the cinnamon as well. Then, the honey and then the ginger," he said describing the dish.
Made with turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, honey, onions, garlic and water, Schuermans insists his lamb tagine is a recipe most home cooks can handle.
It takes six hours but the chef says slow cooking it at 300 degrees is key.
"When you just braise it for six hours and the shank is bone-in, you get the outside of the meat very flavourful but the inside still tastes like lamb ... you get more contrast."
If you'd prefer to leave it to Schuermans, he has suggestions to guarantee yourself a serving of the often sold-out tagine at his restaurant.
On Fridays and Saturdays, he says the restaurant only makes 50 servings so he recommends arriving earlier.
Otherwise, his lesser-known tip is to call the restaurant ahead of time and ask to have it put on hold.