Event celebrates local diversity



photos Courtesy of stephen chan, Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant


Salmon cucumber Thai rolls


Add some sizzle to your taste buds by savouring the culinary delights this long-running Hot and Spicy Food Festival — part of World Routes 2006 at the Harbourfront Centre — has to offer.

“(We) strive to present hot and spicy cuisine that reflects our local diversity by featuring dishes from different cultures (such as) Indian, Straits-Chinese, New Orleans, and the Caribbean,” says Melanie Fernandez, director of community and education programs at Harbourfront Centre. “Hot and spicy is a universal flavour that brings people together.”

Szechuan chili chicken sour soup

This festival’s aim is to please, from its 24 food vendors, 20 cooking demos and ample food tasting.

Some food vendors to keep an eye out for include: chef Shashi Jain’s take on ayurvedic Indian vegetarian cooking, which includes spicy mung dal khichri and mint raita, and homemade tamarind, coriander, date and ginger chutneys; Sybil Pinnock’s Caribbean-Thai vegetable curry; and personal chef Mike Benninger’s Aussie-style chicken and shrimp laksa — a soup melange of ginger, chili and coconut cream, served with bean sprouts and rice.

Sasi Gourmet Thai — run by chef Sasi Meechai, who is also participating in the Iron Chef Competition — will unveil its first ever line of curry and stir fry sauces, including mango dressings. Garlic-lime piquant hot sauce and Cajun blackening spices by Southern Accent restaurant will also be on sale at the Red Hot Market.

This year’s newest vendor, Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant, is eager to entice festival-goers with dishes that will heat up your palate.

Spicy crispy chicken wings

“Hot and Spicy is popular in the Szechuan province,” says owner Stephen Chan. Some of his contributions to the festival include hot and sour soup, crispy chili chicken wings, black pepper beef, barbecue satay beef, Szechuan chicken and curry chicken.

The festival runs from tomorrow until Sunday at World Routes 2006, Harbourfront Centre.

• For more, visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/wr.

sizzling highlights

Hot and sour soup

The Red Hot Market: This popular market is a place to sample and purchase an eclectic variety of spices, sauces, marinades and dips — all with a hot and spicy flair. On all weekend.

Cooking Demos:

  • Flaming Flambé with Miss Kitty preceded by The Goodness Gracious Fire Dancers (Friday,

    9 p.m. at Ann Tindal Park);

  • Caribbean-Thai Vegetable Curry with rice, peas and coconut milk with nutritionist Julie Daniluk and Chef Sybil Pinnock (Saturday, 3 p.m. at Brigantine Tent);

  • Spice Talk with Masala Girl Sapna Jain (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Lakeside Terrace);

  • Russell Ross and the Volcanic Ass Hot Sauce Company (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. at Ann Tindal Park);

  • Carol Lazzerri cooks up Fiery Gazpacho (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. at Brigantine Tent) Jamie Kennedy Kitchens (Sunday, noon at Lakeside Terrace).

  • Sample tickets for all demos are $2 each, sold at venue.

Iron Chef Competition: Semi-finals on Saturday. Toronto North vs. Toronto South (2 p.m., Brigantine Room); Toronto East vs. Toronto West (4:30 p.m., Brigantine Room). Final competition on Sunday (3:30 p.m., Brigantine Room).

top five foods to try

Satay beef and chicken skewers

Kick-Ass Andoiulle: Flaming Flambé by Miss Kitty from Southern Accent restaurant.

Homemade Chutneys: Made by chef Shashi Jain in the Red Hot Market.

Curry Devil: A Straits-Chinese dish by Genevieve Peng that traces back to the Eurasian community in Singapore and Malaysia.

Chilled Fiery Gazpacho: Prepared by Connecticut native Carol Lazzeri, who has a nose for chili peppers.

Traditional Spice Blends: Taught by Masala Girl Sapna Jain, who grew up in a family of spice traders.

Asian Noodles

Serves: 4


125 mL (1/2 cup) chicken broth, 45 mL (3 tbsp) soy sauce, 15 mL (1 tbsp) each chili garlic sauce and rice vinegar, 5 mL (1 tsp) cornstarch, 2 mL (1/2 tsp) Chinese five-spice powder, 250 g (8 oz.) mushroom mixture (shiitake, oyster and white button), Half pkg (350 g/12 oz.) chow mein steamed noodles, 10 mL (2 tsp) vegetable oil, 1 onion, cut into thin wedges, 2 carrots, cut into thin diagonal slices, 1 sweet red pepper, cut into julienne strips, 15 mL (1 tbsp) minced ginger root, 500 mL (2 cups) baby spinach leaves or bean sprouts, 50 mL (1/4 cup) chopped fresh coriander


1. In a bowl, stir together broth, soy and chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch and five-spice powder until smooth; set aside.

2. Remove woody stems from shiitake mushrooms. Slice all mushrooms.

3. Pour boiling water over noodles and let stand for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Cut with scissors for easier tossing and eating.

4. While soaking noodles, heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add onion, carrots and red pepper; stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender-crisp. Add mushrooms and ginger; stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are slightly softened.

5. Stir sauce mixture and stir into vegetables; bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened slightly. Stir in spinach just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Add to noodles.

6. Add coriander; toss well and serve.