Archive of ‘fish’ category

Pinky and the Brain – Luffing Lobster Spread

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Pinky and the Brain

Postscript

Before we could even pick up a mooring ball off of George Town a dinghy motored up, calling to us.  “We have a mooring ball for you. Just follow me.,” a boy who couldn’t have been older than early 20′s led us around the island to the St Francis Resort.  We had been looking forward to getting to the North American St. Francis headquarters.  We had met George, the owner at the Annapolis Boat Show and it was always nice to see other St Francis catamarans; Umineko was a St. Francis.  The first hull.  But we hadn’t expected such a warm welcome.

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I was still glowing from my dolphin encounter the day before.  But one of my priorities reaching land was finding a home for the orphans I had acquired…

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When I opened a interesting fan-shaped mollusk I had collected, I discovered two tiny baby lobsters, one pink, the other so young it was still clear.  The pink one was about 1/18” from the tip of his claws to the end of his tail and the clear one smaller yet.  I dubbed them Pinky and the Brain and put them in a make-shift salt water terrarium determined to find a home for them with someone on land.

The first thing I did when getting to the bar (well, after ordering a delicious frozen strawberry daiquiri) was ask around to see if anyone would take my charges.  To my delight George’s wife offered to.  This delightful woman adores animals and welcomed Pinky and the Brain into her menagerie.  It was a wonderful introduction to the St. Francis Resort.

Okay, so it may be in poor taste to have a lobster spread, but it’s not like I actually ate either of the babies.  Even nicer she doesn’t even like lobster so Pinky and the Brain are safe from becoming an appetizer.

I created this spread on crewing on a different boat and it is divine.  You don’t need a food processor to make it but it is handy if you have one.

Luffing Lobster Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 T milk
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T salt
  • 3 or 4 steamed rock lobster tails (about 2-3 lb lobsters)

Directions:

  • Steam lobster tails
  • While steaming tails mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl
  • Chop tails finely and mix into cream cheese mixture
  • Chill in refrigerator for a day for the flavors to blend (if you can wait that long)
  • Enjoy!

 

xLobsters 300x225 Pinky and the Brain   Luffing Lobster Spread

Backstay Seafood Chana Biryani

seafood biryani 300x225 Backstay Seafood Chana Biryani

 

I slipped on the snorkel and slid off of the paddle board into the shallow aquamarine Bahamas waters.  Looking down I saw the shapes of 5 rays hiding under the sand, their tails sticking up just their eyes exposed, watching warily.  The ethereal form of one meter-wide ray glided gracefully past. He must have given his brethren some sort of signal. I shrieked in surprise (as much as one can shriek around a snorkel) as 5 enormous rays exploded upward in a cloud of sand. That was the start of it.

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I had promised to find lobster in the Bahamas.  The last time I was sailing there it seemed that the islands were thick with them, hiding in every rock and crevasse. We had eaten them until we couldn’t face another bite of lobster.  This time was different I had found lobster!  Paddle-boarding up to a fishing boat, but Sato San wanted to actually hunt lobster.  Wild lobster.  Today was our last chance. Our last stop before George Town, then it was on to Cuba.

We anchored off of Leestocking Cay and I looked approvingly at the rocky coastline.  Rocks and crags… this was lobster territory.  We dinghied slowly over to the rocky shoreline to search for the lobsters that were surely hiding there.

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Taira San and Sato San in the dinghy, me in tow on the paddleboard looking for potential dinners.  I stopped several times to pick up a couple of conch and some interesting fan-shaped shellfish that stuck out of the sand.  In case we didn’t find any lobster it would be good to have a back-up plan.

Sato San, Taira San and I split up and did a thorough scouring of the area, checking under rocks and crannies from one beach to the next. Sea cucumbers, dozens of dead conch, thousands of miniscule transparent fish, but not so much as a lobster antenna to be seen.  Near the second beach I saw Sato San again who suggested we head back to the dinghy.  I was all for it, over an hour in the water and I was getting cold.

As everyone else had flippers and I didn’t, I was the straggler.  Not that I minded.  The ocean-life was beautiful, especially in the 3’-8’ waters near the shore.  The porous volcanic rock hosted a myriad of fish and sea life.  Still, I was half on the lookout for dinner.

From out of nowhere, a lithe grey shape whizzed up to me and slowed for a swim-by.  My eyes widened.  A dolphin!  I hadn’t seen a single dolphin since leaving the States almost a month earlier and now one swam right past me!  The dolphin turned tightly to hook back to swim within a meter.

His soft black eye looked inquisitively at me as he swam past. If he had been wearing a cap he would have doffed it.  A few feet further the dove-grey gentleman looped back swimming back towards me.  My heart soared.  I could hardly believe it.  Less than 5’ long, my dolphin friend had to be a teenager. He clearly fascinated by the strange creature in the water.  Still, he had small notch out of his left flipper, maybe curiosity had gotten the best of him another time.

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The spritely character swam inclined his cute snub nose to look at me before circling out a meter away and let out a high-pitched squeal. I tried to make a similar high-pitched sound, but dolphin is even harder to pick up than Japanese.  After a few minutes of interaction my new friend swam away.  I watched the tail grow fainter and fainter in the water.

Suddenly, to my delight, the dolphin was back at my side.  He started big 5’ loops around me.  One towards the surface, another diving to examine me from all angles.  Time stood still as he started swimming in faster, tighter circles around me.  I could have reached out my arm and brushed him, but somehow I sensed that wasn’t proper dolphin etiquette.

We danced, me twirling around almost in place his circles were so close.  Not wanting to miss a second of the experience I drank everything in.  The aero(hydro?)dynamic rounded lines that slid through the water with ease.  The trim figure, but most of all the expressive features.  I had read of dolphin’s intelligence, but experiencing it first-hand it struck me deeply.

He drifted out several feet and rolled over on one side exposing his belly to me.  I rolled over in the same move.  When I let my legs drift down, he “stood up” in the water, his tail near the bottom, head near the surface mimicking my upright stance.  We were imitating one another!

When my friend surfaced for air and dipped back under the waves I smiled.  This was another mammal. We had the bond of air-breathers in this underwater world.  I wanted more than anything to be able to communicate.  His deep intelligent eyes and actions, told me the dolphin clearly wanted the same.  But I was the slow ape in his fast-paced world. After 10-minutes I stopped being quite so interesting and my friend swam away leaving me with a warm sense of connection.

It lasted about a minute.  As soon as I turned away and begin to swim back to the dinghy a menacing grey dart-shaped form took my friend’s place.  Ice-cold chills crept up my spine as the razor-sharp lines of a 4-foot barracuda cruised up and hovered a meter away from me.  I wasn’t about to turn my back on this sinister character.  If the dolphin’s eyes had seemed playful, this character’s cold, flat eyes and jutting teeth screamed one thing: danger.  I hoped and prayed the dolphin would come back to no avail.

I called for Sato San and luckily he was nearby with a lobster spear and frightened the predator away.  Luckily, I had taken off my ring.  I had no desire to offer swimming destruction any shiny temptation.  We got back to Umineko the boys lamenting the fact that we didn’t find any lobster.  I opened up the fan-shaped shell to reveal more than just the slimy sea creature.  Two baby lobsters were living in the shell too!  One red and the other clear, both around the size of an eraser!  Hey, they asked me to find lobster – they didn’t specify what size.

I cooked the conch and the disgusting slimy fan-shaped shellfish in a seafood biryani.  The adorable baby lobsters are my new pets and live in a shallow bowl of salt water with half the shell.  I am hoping to find an appropriate home for them in George Town.

Douglas Adams may not have been too far off in So Long and Thanks for all the Fish.  Dolphins might not be extraterrestrial but who’s to say they aren’t as intelligent as humans.  I don’t want to anthropomorphize dolphins.  They are an entirely different species.  Their surroundings have caused their brains to develop in very different ways from us.  But they are intelligent, curious, inquisitive, and interested in exploring and learning about their world.

I think that it would be anthrocentric of us to claim humans are smarter than these creatures.  Intelligent in different ways, of course, but humans could learn so much from these creatures. I long to communicate better.  I know that scientists have been working on it for years, but if somehow we managed to crack the dolphin language…
Backstay Seafood Chana Biryani

Ingredients:
1 lb conch, chopped
1 fillet fish, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb squid
2 c rice
1 c chick peas, cooked
½ onion, chopped
½ carrot, chopped
5 cardomom pods
1 t cinnamon
2 t garam masala
1 t turmeric
2 t grated ginger
1 t cumin seeds
½ t coriander seeds
1 t salt
3 c water
2 c rice
¼ c cranberries
½ c cashews
Directions:
Cook seafood in pressure cooker about 20 minutes
Sauté garlic and onions in oil in deep pan for about 3 minutes
Add carrot and cook another 2 minutes
Add spices and stir until veggies are coated
Add rice and stir until coated
Add water and bring to a boil
Steam for 15 minutes
Add chick peas
Drain seafood and stir into biryani rice mixture

Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

xlobster tacos 2 Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

Menacing nurse sharks are thick in Staniel Cay.  Not quite the ominous beasts from the James Bond film Thunderball, but it amuses me to no end that there are in fact sharks that populate the Thunderball Grotto.

x menacing nurse sharks Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

It may be one of the Bahamas biggest tourist attractions, but Thunderball Grotto is well worth a visit.  I’ve been to James Bond shooting locations around the world.  Thailand, Udaipur India, and I’m sure there were a few others.  Not that I’m making a point of visiting, it just works out that way.  This is the coolest one I’ve been to.

x thunderball grotto Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

You swim into the grotto through one of several openings in the porous rock island.  I chose an opening that you actually dove down and swam underwater through a passage until the cave opened in front of you.  With a high arched ceiling and dim blue lighting flickering off the cave walls the hollow center of the island is a natural cathedral more beautiful than anything manmade.

True to the film, there is an opening in the top of the cave.  Sadly the grotto makes only a fleeting appearance in the film in which James Bond is helicoptered out of the cave.  In real life visitors can climb to the top of the island and those braver than I am can jump into the grotto from the top of the island, probably a 30-foot drop.

More my speed, there are hundreds of fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors that flock, or school perhaps, to the cave for tourist treats.  Naturally we brought the fish some bread and I was immediately clothed in a cloud of opportunistic fish begging for handouts.

x sally with fish 2 Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

We watched Thunderball that night and feasted on lobster tacos.  We still had frozen tails left from our incredible deal with the fishermen in Chub Cay (I didn’t realize just how amazing a deal it was until I saw 3 tails being sold for $25-40 in Nassau on the side of the road).  Tacos are delicious, healthy, and easy to make.  Not to mention perfect for a boat.

We always try to have cabbage on board, I make it a point to stock up on flour tortillas, and most of the trimmings (rice, beans, etc) are pretty standard ingredients on a boat.  The sauce is what really makes this dish though.  I have played with the recipe for ages and this is definitely my favorite.

I would love to hear what you think!

Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

Makes 8-10 tacos

Ingredients:

Soft flour taco tortillas

½ head cabbage very finely chopped

Meat from 4+ lobster tails, shredded

Taco Sauce

½ c yachting yogurt

2 T kewpie mayonnaise

1 t salt

Juice from 2 limes

½ t taco seasoning

Directions:

Boil lobster tails

Cut up cabbage and put in small mixing bowl

Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, salt lime juice, and taco seasoning – sauce should be thin

Heat tortilla

Put lobster in line along widest part of tortilla

Sprinkle cabbage over half of the tortilla

Drizzle sauce over cabbage

Fold taco

Enjoy!

Serve with rice, beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, or whatever your heart desires and galley offers.

 

Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

x telltale tuna wraps Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

Diving (okay snorkeling, let’s be honest here) shipwrecks is always fun.  Seeing how man made ruins have been converted into a make-shift home, no an entire underwater ecosystem never ceases to amaze.  Yes, shipwrecks are great, but sunken planes?  When I heard that Norman’s Cay boasted a sunken plane from the 1970s I was dying to explore it.

To my relief Sato San was all for it.   We anchored half a mile away right off of the archetypal desert island, one palm tree sprouting up in the middle.  Of course, under the tree sat a wooden bench, but you could always imagine the Swiss Family Robinson had a hand in that.

A few sheets of metal barely stuck out of the azure water, the last remnants of the plane’s top.  The rest had long since rusted away, ravaged by the elements.  Still, it was enough for us to spot it and dinghy over.  There is a feeling of mystique about sunken planes, shipwrecks, and ruins.  It gives you a shivery feeling of wonder, danger, and opens a thousand questions.  What had happened?  Who had been on this plane?  Did they survive?

x sally diving sunken plane Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

I slid over the side of the dinghy into the warm Bahamian water and came face to face with rusted -propellers and the nose of the barnacle-covered wreck.  I swam around it.  Nothing remained inside the wreck.  It had been too long; the ocean had taken its due.  Resident yellow and black striped fish surrounded the wreck.  Two rays were hiding under the sand, only their tails and a thin outline visible. Until an eye blinked open watching.

I never knew the graceful creatures spent time hiding under the sand, but with flat bodies it made sense.  The underwater world was just as marvelous as I remembered.  I examined the plane from all angles, though decided against actually going inside the wreck and swam until the warm water started to feel cold.  It was time to head back to the dinghy.

x ray under sand Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

Taira San, our new 70-year old Japanese crew member who had taken up sailing, kiteboarding, and countless other adventure sports after his 60th birthday, was waiting back in the dinghy.  Almost immediately Sato San joined us and we headed over to the desert island to explore.

The island beach was crawling with hundreds of young conchs.  The orangey-pink little shells were everywhere.  We did find a few legal-sized queen conchs with dramatically flared lips in deeper water though.  Our first conchs!

x archetypal desert island Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

After a little while we headed back to the catamaran to make lunch.  After a long morning of exploring and adventures I didn’t want to make something too terribly involved and besides, everyone was hungry.  Quick and easy was the name of the game.  Tuna salad wraps fit the bill.

Tuna salad is certainly of the best fallback cruising foods. I make sure to keep my pantry well-stocked with canned tuna.  This is one of my favorite versions of the classic.  If you don’t have bell peppers you can omit them but I always like to have onions and celery.

Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

 

Ingredients:

1 can tuna

½ onion, chopped

½ bell pepper, chopped (red or yellow are prettiest but since they don’t last as long I usually just use green)

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 T relish

¼ c mayonnaise

Juice from 1 lime

1 t black pepper

1 t salt

1 t chili seasoning (or cayenne pepper)

 

Directions:

Mash the tuna in bottom of large bowl

Mix in veggies

Add remaining ingredients and mix well

 

 

Tuna wraps

Makes 4 wraps

Ingredients:

1 recipe tuna salad

1 tomato cut into wedges

4 burrito flour tortillas

Sprouts (optional)

 

Directions:

Spoon tuna salad onto 4 wraps

Arrange tomato wedges in line on each tortilla

Place sprouts on top

Fold bottom of tortilla up and roll into wrap

x sally and plane wreck Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

Sextant Seafood cous cous

x seafood cous cous 2 Sextant Seafood cous cous

He sat at the mouth of his cave, a king presiding over his royal court.  There was no question this lobster was the ruler of this coral reef.  He knew it too.  The monstrous coruscation must have been over a meter long.  Living in prime real estate, the “sea aquarium” that was the Exhuma Cays Land and Sea park’s pride and joy he knew that no one could touch him.

x king lobster Sextant Seafood cous cous

The sea park reef was nice snorkeling, but not quite as spectacular as we had been led to believe.  A half hour was really enough time before we were ready to move on to the land portion of the park.  We sailed the short distance to the small island in a few hours and were greeted with an enormous whale skeleton.  The whale had died from plastic bags and pollution in the crystal clear waters and stood as a warning.

Curly-tailed lizards scampered along the pathway up to the gift shop, run by a volunteer US ex-pat.  He regaled us with tales of how the most disastrous shipwreck of Dominican refugees to date had just happened a few weeks earlier.  I was reminded of Christmas Island and the refugee problem there.  The Bahamas weren’t nearly as well-organized as Australia.  No one was sure the exact number but certainly hundreds of Dominican refugees had died in this accident and it was just one of many this year alone.

x curly tailed lizard Sextant Seafood cous cous

The volunteer ranger knew everything about the island and told us about some of the interesting hikes. We walked along the shore as several feet of sand gave way to the porous stone characteristic of the Bahamas.  We wanted to find the cairn of boat signs.  Umineko had put one up in Cocos Keeling and we naturally had to leave one here.  Sato San had made it specially!

We hiked through an array of landscape, mangroves, sandy beach, rocky outcroppings.  The island was more diverse than anything I had seen in the Bahamas.  Pushing stunted trees and vegetation out of our way we reached the top of a hill.  There were several holes in the porous rocks marked “blow hole.”  Air shot up through the vent startling us the first time.  Then Sato San had me stand over it and practice my Marilyn Monroe impression.

The enormous pile of wooden boat plaques at the top of the hill overlooking the boats was massive.  Yachts of every nationality had marked their visit with signs commemorating their visit to the Bahamas.  We fixed our Umineko sign to one end of the landmark.  We were here.

Seafood was in order that evening but I didn’t have any desire to make anything too terribly complicated or time-consuming.  Seafood cous cous sounded perfect.

Cous cous is the perfect food for a boat.  Fast, easy, it cooks quickly and uses very little water.  Sure it needs a bit of dressing up to be tasty, but you can work wonders with cous cous.  This seafood cous cous turned out marvelously.  If you don’t have conch stock just use water and add a little vegeta vegetable stock or a bouillon cube.

 

 

Sextant Seafood cous cous

½ onion

1 clove garlic

1 T olive oil

1 t turmeric

2 t garam masala

2 c conch stock

1 t coriander

1 t cinnamon

1 t black pepper

2 c shrimp

1 c squid

1 c imitation crab

½ c cranberries

½ c cashews

1 c cous cous

 

Directions:

Fry the onion and garlic in vegetable oil about 3 minutes or until fragrant

Add seafood and spices, mix in cooking another minute

Add conch stock and bring to a boil

Add cous cous and cover cook for a minute

Allow to steam 5 minutes

Stir in nuts and cranberries

Lobster Sashimi

lobster sashimi Lobster Sashimi

Welcome to The Bahamas!

I went for my first paddle boarding in Chub Cay in the Bahamas.  Sato San had been trying to get me on the thing since the Erie Canal but it was always too cold. Call me a coward but I’m just not cut out for swimming in chilly waters.  I always told him that I would paddleboard in the Bahamas.  When we reached Bimini, our first stop in the Bahamas, I refused.  The no swimming signs in the marina might not have been enough to dissuade me, but the enormous bull sharks that the marina fed certainly were.  Shark attacks might be rare, but swimming where 10’ bull sharks were regularly fed? Not a chance was I getting anywhere near that water.

xpaddleboarding Lobster Sashimi

Our third day in the Bahamas, anchored in crystal waters I gave it a try. Surprisingly it’s a lot more stable than I had feared.  I paddled a quick circle around Umineko, getting my paddle board legs. Gaining confidence I paddled out further.  Some movement on one of the boats anchored nearby caught my eye.  The run-down boat just gave off a fisherman vibe.  I paddled a little closer and called out to see if they happened to have any lobsters.  “We have lots!” one of them replied in a delighted voice.   Chub Cay was pretty far from any of the  standard tourist destinations. Having patrons paddle board up to the boat cut down on gas, time an energy for the fishermen.

“We’ll bring them by later.  How much do you want to pay?  $50?”

$50?  I was shocked.   One of my favorite dinners in New York had been going to Chinatown and buying 3 lobsters 3 for their $20 special.  And that was New York City.  $50 here seemed exorbitant.  Rather than actually laughing in their face I put on my best pathetic face and told the man that we were poor and couldn’t pay much more than $10 or $15.

The fisherman told me that we could agree on a price later when they came by with the lobsters so I paddled back to Umineko.  The sun was dipping towards the horizon and I wasn’t entirely sure they were going to come by with lobster for the stingy girl so Mori San and I dinghied over to the fisherman’s boat.  To my delight they handed me an enormous ziplock bag stuffed to the point of bursting with lobster tails.  I had expected 5 or 6 lobsters at the most.  They tried for $50 again but I bargained them down to $20 and 4 beers.

lobster tais 2 Lobster Sashimi

Twenty one tails.  Granted they weren’t the largest tails, but they weren’t tiny either.  Just large enough to be legal and small enough to be tender and delicious.  A wonderful welcome to the Bahamas.

We gorged ourselves on lobster that night, eating everything we could (and probably more than we should – neither Taira San nor I could finish ours), and froze the remaining tails.  That night’s menu was steamed green beans with garlic butter sauce, lobster sashimi, Sato San’s favorite, and steamed lobster tails.

     I had never even thought of lobster sashimi before but the sweet meat lends itself to being eaten raw.

You don’t have to, and actually shouldn’t, marinate it. Let the luscious flavor stand on its own.  Devein the tail and cut it into small chunks.  With a little soy sauce and wasabi it is divine.

 

x lobster dinner pic Lobster Sashimi

 

Lobster Sashimi

 

Ingredients:

2-4 lobster tails

Soy sauce

Wasabi

Pickled ginger

 

Directions:

Using heavy-duty scissors, cut the underside of the shell from base of the tail to its tip

Extract the meat

Devein the tail leaving only the beautiful white meat

Cut meat into small bite-sized chunks

Arrange on a platter

Serve with wasabi, soy, and pickled ginger

 

sally serving lobster dinner Lobster Sashimi

Lime-soy Tilapia over a bed of Spinach

Tilapia email 1 Lime soy Tilapia over a bed of Spinach
We anchored in the middle of the ocean. In 20 feet of water. Many a Spanish galleon ran aground in the Bahamas, giving it its name. Spanish Baja (low) mar (sea). Unfortunately, unlike the last time I was on a boat anchored in the middle of the Bahamas the seas were anything but flat. Thinking back to sailing across lake Erie I should have remembered how choppy shallow bodies of water get. So it makes sense that it doesn’t take much of a wind to stir up water that shallow but still
A rolly anchorage didn’t begin to cover it. Waves slammed into us from what seemed like all sides. At
least it was a good test for our new Rocna anchor.
Anchored in the middle of the ocean, fish for dinner just made sense. Though white fish isn’t my favorite it does lend itself well to glazes and sauces and we had picked up some cheap frozen tilapia at Costco before leaving the States. I know, fresh fish is invariably better but we like to hedge our bets. Just in case we don’t catch fish it’s always good to keep your freezer stocked. You’d think a Japanese boat wouldn’t have any problems catching fish, but we hadn’t had the best luck so frozen tilapia fillets it
was.
We had just done our last time in the States provisioning extravaganza and I was doing what I could to use the fresh vegetables before they went off. Leafy greens go first so I always try to use them as quickly as possible. As much as I adore salads keeping fresh greens on a long passage is all-butimpossible.

 

This glazed fish would be delightful over a bed of rice as well, though possibly not quite as healthy. So if
you manage to pick up some spinach or similar greens along the way they accent this scrumptious fish
brilliantly.

 

Lime-soy Tilapia over a bed of Spinach

 
Ingredients:
2 T soy
1 T honey
1 T mirin
1 T water
Juice from 2 limes
2 T Olive oil
2 c fresh spinach
Dried cranberries
Slivered almonds
Feta cheese
4 tilapia filets
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:
Mix soy, mirin, honey, and lime juice in bowl
Heat 2 T olive oil in large skillet over medium heat
Fry fish for 2-3 minutes
Flip fish and add sauce
Stir slowly until sauce reduces to glaze
Flip fish and turn off heat
Serve over a bed of spinach

x a non rolly mid ocean picture email 300x225 Lime soy Tilapia over a bed of Spinach

Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi

flowers 1024x768 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi

It was an overnight sail from Charleston.  Smooth sailing all the way, unfortunately not fast, but smooth which was nice.

We had originally wanted to find a marina in Brunswick but all the marinas either didn’t have space for us or were extremely expensive.  We opted for anchoring out a bit further South.  Almost at the border between Florida and Georgia.

We anchored among a few other boats in the lee of an island.

“There are horses on the island.” Sato San told me.

Of course I had to go outside and see.  He was right, there was a small herd of ponies in the woods down the beach.  We dinghied out to the island and tied up at the dock.  As soon as we got off the boat we could feel the grandeur of Southern

stag 1024x768 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi

nature.  A hush of the cathedral forest made it feel holy.  The cool sweet air had a different texture than the ocean just feet away.  We walked through the woods’ grand corridors gawking at the ancient trees with their elegant tresses of sphagnum  moss.

 

 

 

We were in a completely different world.  A doe sprang away from us as we startled her browsing by the pathway.  But I had my heart set on seeing the feral ponies.  Their droppings littered the pathways but nary a pony did we see.

We wound our way through the woods to the beach on the opposite side of the island without hide nor hair of a pony. Finally we happened upon some other people who told us that the ponies generally stayed near some grassy ruins a short dinghy ride away.

The three scrubby ponies we happened upon weren’t scared of us at all. pony 1024x768 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi In fact they were accustomed to people.  Feral ponies are always fun to see, but I could easily see why Assateague’s feral ponies were more well-known than Cumberland Island’s.  (okay, so Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague may have helped a little) Soon I was wowed by the enormous buck that crashed through the trees just ahead of us, pausing to look back at us.  His antler crown made him seem like royalty of the forest.

But Sato San was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and so we headed back.  After the night sail and exploring the island I was a little tired.   I wasn’t really in the mood to make an involved dinner.  I asked Sato San what he wanted to eat he suggested unagi.  Not the simple unagi I was used to.  He wanted to teach me how to make a special dish: Hitsumabushi Unagi.

DSCN8943 300x225 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi UnagiThis unagi-fest of a dish was invented in Nagoya but soon spread throughout Japan.  I adore Unagi.  Given the choice of a last meal I might have to choose unagi.  Still, this dish is like the Japanese equivalent of an all-you-can-eat crab dinner.  You know you shouldn’t eat more but you just can’t stop yourself.

Simple and delicious.  The only problem is finding the unagi.  You can usually find it in the frozen section at Asian supermarkets but unfortunately the price of unagi has gone up in the past year because eel has been overfished and they are increasingly hard to find.  Still, I highly recommend trying this dish if you can find unagi.  The tender meat practically melts in your mouth in a sweet-savory blend of deliciousness.  Balanced by rice and a little wasabi I can’t think of many things more scrumptious.

Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi

Under the Lee: Located in the calm area to the lee of an island or peninsula

Sea Talk Nautical Dictionary

DSCN8949 300x225 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi UnagiIngredients:

  • 1 recipe unagi sauce
  • 2 unagi steaks
  • Short grained rice
  • 1 c Japanese green tea
  • Wasabi paste
  • Green onions, finely sliced

 

 

 

DSCN8948 300x225 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi UnagiDirections:

Cook rice (I hate to admit it but the rice cooker really does cook rice better than I can and sadly the rice cooker is a shore-power only thing.)

  • Make recipe of unagi sauce
  • Bake eel about 15 minutes at 350◦ F (170◦ )
  • Broil 5 minutes to cook top
  • Cut unagi into thin strips
  • Place unagi, unagi sauce, and rice pot in center of table and set table with bowls at everyone’s place
  • Get Ready

Get Set… 

Go!

Round 1:

  • DSCN8954 300x225 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi UnagiSpoon rice into bowl
  • Place strips of unagi on top
  • Spoon unagi sauce
  • Devour

Round 2:

  • Spoon rice into bowl
  • Place strips of unagi over rice
  • Sprinkle green onions on top
  • Squeeze wasabi onto the creation
  • Drizzle unagi sauce around
  • Mix
  • Savor

Round 3:

DSCN8955 300x225 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi

  • Round 2 + green tea (The green tea is wonderful to help clean the sticky rice and unagi sauce out of the bowl and adds an interesting flavor)
  • You can do it!  Just a little deliciousness left to go…

 

 

 

shoreline cumberland 1024x768 Under the Lee Hitsumabushi Unagi

Under Sail Unagi

DSCN8709 1024x768 Under Sail Unagi

Unagi, barbecued eel, is one of my favorite Japanese foods, one of my favorite foods period.  In sushi or over hot rice.  But always with the sweet, savory unagi sauce over it.  Yum yum yum.

When I first started crewing on Umineko, the Japanese catamaran I asked if we had unagi sauce any on board.

The skipper, Sato San, just laughed and told me that it was easy to make.  I’m convinced that almost everything is easy once you know the trick.  The trouble is in the learning curve.  What’s easy for a Japanese person who’s grown up with making the food and for a Westerner can be two different  things entirely.

One day, Sato San’s friend came for a visit bearing delicious Unagi, frozen barbecued eel.

“It’s easy as 1 2 3… one two three the same amount and just boil it… finish.”

I was slightly skeptical, but I tried it and he was so right.  It really is as easy as 123.  A learning gradual incline and decline rather than curve too.  Over unagi it is heavenly, but over plain rice, green beans, and so much more it’s scrumptious as well.

It might be hard to find the actual unagi (found in the frozen section of most Asian groceries) everywhere in the world, or keep your freezer stocked with it, but making the unagi sauce is definitely a cruiser-friendly recipe and a great way to put in your next stirfry.

Under Sail Unagi

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Unagi
  • 1 recipe unagi sauce
  • 2 cups short-grained rice
  • ¼ c finely chopped spring onion

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Cook rice
  • Place bbq eel cooking on baking sheet covered in aluminum foil
  • Cook 7 minutes
  • Turn on broiler and cook another 3 minutes
  • Fill 2 or 3 bowls with rice (depending on how many people are eating)
  • Divide eel into 2-3 portions
  • Spoon unagi sauce over rice
  • Sprinkle spring onions over eel

Unagi sauce

Ingredients:

  • ¼ c mirin
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ¼ c soy sauce

Directions:

  • Mix in small saucepan
  • Bring to a simmer stirring occasionally
  • Cook for 5 minutes until sauce thickens slightly (try not to over-cook or your unagi-sauce can turn into syrup)

IMG 1554 1024x768 Under Sail Unagi

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