Archive of ‘Japanese’ category

4,000 miles of festivities

 

On long passages the days can blur together in the routine (okay, this is a good passage we’re talking about here).  Sounds boring, but it isn’t xdorayaki 300x224 4,000 miles of festivities bad.  There is always something to do and days slide by almost without notice.  Still, it’s nice to shake a little spice of celebration in there.  Umineko was lucky; of the 4 crew, 2 of us had March birthdays, so we had sea celebrations to plan to break the passage up.

I don’t usually do much for my birthday.  Traveling so much it usually gets forgotten or I’m just not with close friends and it doesn’t matter.  I figured this one would be the same.  Sure, I make cakes for other people on their birthdays but I didn’t really want to make one for myself.  That just seemed gratuitous.

 

 

 

When my birthday came, I wasn’t expecting anything… and almost cried at Sato San’s kindness.  Somehow, on the 45 foot boat he managed to bake me a special Japanese cake called Dorayaki without my knowing!    I could hardly believe it when he brought it out… there was even a candle for me to blow out!

xdorayaki1 300x224 4,000 miles of festivitiesDorayaki is a sweet layer cake filled with anko, brown sugary adzuki bean paste.  No one had baked me a birthday cake since I was a little girl.  I was so touched at Sato San’s delicious creation.

I’m not sure he had ever baked a cake before in his life, but it was scrumptious.  Japanese desserts are not nearly as sweet as Western ones, and dorayaki is no exception.  The layer “cakes” are more like a slightly sweeter version of Western pancakes.  The filling though, anko, is sweet.  My friend’s son calls it “Chinese chocolate,” and I have heard other Americans say it’s too sweet for them.  To me it is sweet and delicious but not too sweet.  I know, I know, we don’t usually think of beans in desserts but believe me.  Anko is yummy.

This isn’t my recipe, but I found a wonderful Dorayaki Recipe on Japanese cooking 101.  Even better (when you have enough bandwidth), they have cooking videos of how to make each recipe.  I highly recommend trying this tasty recipe when you have a chance.

A few weeks later it was Toshi San’s birthday… the Umineko boys had thrown me a fantastic birthday.  I had to make sure Toshi got a fun one too.  Or at least a tasty treat on his birthday.

I did my best to keep it a surprise and bake and decorate while Toshi San slept.  Decorating pies, by the way, is not the easiest thing.  I’m not quite sure I did as good a job as Sato San had with clandestine baking, but I did my best.

Apple pie was one of Toshi San’s favorites, so I had made a point of buying some in Panama and reserving a few for his birthday pie, secreting them in my cabin.

xtoshi birthday 300x225 4,000 miles of festivitiesMost people think of apple pie with milk, and *sigh* ice cream, at least I do.  Alas the nearest ice cream parlor was still well over a thousand nautical miles away and ice cream is one of those things almost impossible to keep on a boat.  The boys poo pooed the idea of apple pie and milk.  Ordinarily we didn’t drink on passage, but today was a birthday celebration.  Beer was in order.  And so it was… we served apple pie and beer for Toshi San’s birthday crossing the Pacific.

Apples are a wonderful fruit to keep at sea.  They last for literally months.  Just keep them wrapped up in a dark, dry, and cool (ish) place there’s one on board.  Since apples grow in cold climates they’re hard to find in the tropics, but they definitely last.  There are people who use canned apples in pie, and admittedly cooking on a yacht I have cut corners that I never thought I would, but I draw the line at canned apples.  To me making apple pie out of a can is nothing short of sacrilegious.

 

Admirals Apple Pie

Crust:

Ingredients:

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 c cold butter
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 T rum
  • 2 T cold water

Directions:

  • Put flour and salt in bowl.
  • Cut your (cold) butter into table-spoon-sized chunks and stir into flour
  • Use hands to mix butter and flour until butter forms pea-sized lumps
  • Mix in rum 1 T at a time
  • Mix in water squeezing, until dough forms a cohesive ball
  • Divide ball in half, roll into circle and line pie tin
  • Roll other half of dough into thin circle

 

Filling:xapple pie 300x225 4,000 miles of festivities

  • 5 apples, cored and sliced (I prefer granny smith)
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 2 T lemon juice

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to  175 C (350 F)
  • In large bowl place apple slices
  • Mix in remaining ingredients except butter
  • Spoon filling into crust-lined tin
  • Lay remaining dough over pie tin
  • Pinch edges closed
  • Poke vent slits into pie crust with knife
  • Cover edges of pie with tin foil to prevent them from getting too brown
  • Place in oven for 45 minutes
  • Remove tin foil
  • Bake an additional 15 minutes until pie juices just start oozing out of vent slits and crust is a golden brown
  • Allow to cool for at least ½ an hour… if you can wait that long

 

Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

Sally and bonito 300x225 Blue Water Bonito SashimiYou’re crewing on a Japanese-owned boat?  You much catch a ton of fish!

Well, not so much.  Not a one in the Bahamas.  We did catch a ton of barracuda in Cuba, but we’d thrown all of them back.  It may have been open water but we had absolutely no desire to mess with ciguatera,  the fish-borne illness  that’s featured in various places on the spectrum from  wish-you-were-dead to actually deadly.  We had caught a king fish and a few little things in harbors, but fish seemed to be keeping clear of Umineko.

 

 

 

Toshi cleaning bonito 300x224 Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

Toshi San cleaning bonito

But our luck seemed to be changing on our long passage.  We caught our first big(ish) fish.  And a tasty one too, a bonito, and perfect for a Japanese boat.  Japanese cooking uses bonito, or katsuo, flakes and stock in a whole lot of their dishes.  I just had never tasted a fresh one.

When Toshi San, our resident fish expert, deftly cleaned our catch I found out the 10 pound catch had red meat.  I’m not sure why I’d been expecting it to have white, but the dark red meat looked good.  For this catch we had a real Japanese feast, curtsey of  Toshi San, or as I like to call him, my sakane sensai (fish sensai).

 

 

 

xbonito meat 300x224 Blue Water Bonito SashimiHe showed me how to trim all of the edges off of the fillets, leaving only the “beautiful” meat, for sashimi and chirashi sushi.  We waste all of the scraps?  I asked him, horrified.   Not at all, he replied, putting them in a small pan.

He chopped up some fresh ginger and arranged it over the fish.  Then he poured a little mirin, a little soy sauce, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and enough water to cover the fish.

“I’ve been cooking fish since I was a child,”  he told me.  I never measure anything.  I don’t have to!”

 

 

xbonito 300x224 Blue Water Bonito SashimiThe dish was delicious but as I’m still not up to judging how much of what goes in I won’t put the recipe up.  I’ll just have to experiment a bit more.

For the “beautiful dishes,” we made easy sushi rice, cooking the rice, folding in a sushi powder packet, and then training a fan on it:  The modern take on hand-fanned sushi.

Then we thickly sliced the most beautiful fish rolls, each piece about 1” thick.  He explained to me that dark meat was generally sliced more thickly in Japan.

 

 

 

xeasy sushi rice 300x224 Blue Water Bonito SashimiHe sliced the meat and arranged the pieces one after the other in elegant lines on a plate.  Each one fit together perfectly.  Next he chopped 3 cloves  of garlic and spread it over the bonito.  Finally he sprinkled finely chopped spring onions over the top, wrapped it in plastic film, and refrigerated it until dinner time.

I was in charge of arranging the toppings for the chirashi sushi.  With the three dishes we had a glorious bonito feast that day.

 

 

 

Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

sashimi bonito 300x224 Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

Blue Water Bonito Sushi

Ingredients:

  • Bonito
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • Spring onion

 

 

 

 

Instructions:

  • xchirishi sushi 300x224 Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

    Bonito Chirashi Sushi

    Slice bonito in 1” slices and arrange on plate

  • Cover with chopped garlic
  • Sprinkle with spring onion
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 4 hours
  • Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and rice, or as a starter for a meal

Fair Winds Flying Fish

xflying fish 300x224 Fair Winds Flying Fish

A scream of stark terror pierced the night.

“What happened!?”  Toshi San was quick to ask.

I tried to forget the memory of the cold, slimy form wriggling between my toes.

You don’t expect to step on a flying fish in the hallway to your cabin.  The hatch hadn’t been open more than a crack, but somehow the creature had found its way in.  They were everywhere.

Like gifts from the sea gods, heaps of flying fish graced our trampoline and deck every morning.   We had so many, Sato San started noting how many fish we’d gotten on the daily log.  Each line had date, Position, how many miles we had left of the total, position, temperature, and number of flying fish noted.

 

 

 

 

 

xdaily log board 300x224 Fair Winds Flying Fish

Daily Log Board

On every other yacht I’d sailed flying fish were thrown over the side.  The ones who crashed harder were cursed for smearing the deck with their scales  (a nightmare to scrub off once you were in port).  Umineko was different.  Once,  I threw one over the side and Sato San gasped in horror.  We can eat those!

 

 

 

 

 

xsally prepares 300x225 Fair Winds Flying Fish

I had never even considered it, but he explained to me he really wanted flying fish for breakfast the next day.  Yup, you heard right.  Breakfast.  Sure,  fish for breakfast may sound strange to Westerners.  I was certainly surprised.  But I am almost always up for trying new things.  After all, why crew on a Japanese boat if you don’t want to expand your culinary expertise and horizons?

And there it was.  Flying fish were on the menu.   But making one type of fish dish is boring.  I had to diversify.  Soon it became a challenge.  What different types of flying fish could I make?

 

 

xcookingff 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishAfter about a week of flying fish for breakfast Sato San was still gung-ho about the whole thing, but other crew members (whom shall remain nameless) were pleading for a Western breakfast.  Flying fish are quite tasty prepared the right way, but no matter how many variations you make no matter how hard you try they don’t do very well in American-style pancakes.

You cruisers may have never thought about frying up your flying fish, but I highly recommend it.  Fish you don’t even have to hook?  Why not?  The Umineko boys were all about the bigger the fish the better.  I have a different take on things.  The small ones take less work.  Like a lot less.

 

xcookingff2 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishWhen a flying fish gets to a certain size they grow scales and you can’t eat the bones.  I’m not a huge fan of or expert at descaling and filleting fish.  It’s even more annoying when there are a ton of flying fish to clean.  But the captain liked them.  I got pretty skilled at it, though I still was much happier when the little ones offered themselves up for our breakfast.

As they are a bit of a chore to clean maybe not cooking them every day they appear on the deck, but I definitely recommend giving them a try once or twice.    As I mentioned, I tried quite a  few takes on flying fish, but this was one of my favorite recipes.

Fair Winds Flying Fish Donburi

xflying fish donburi 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishIngredients:

  • Rice, cooked
  • Pickled veggies  (we use pickled daikon(takuan), kimchee, and whatever other pickles we have)
  • Flying fish, cleaned
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin (you can substitute 1 T water and 2 t sugar)

 

 

 Directions:

  • xff donburi2 300x224 Fair Winds Flying FishHeat butter in pan over medium heat
  • Fry garlic for 1 minute
  • Add flying fish, skin-side down and cook 2-3 minutes (depending on size)
  • Flip fish and cook another minute
  • Add soy sauce and mirin and cook one more minute
  • Serve over rice with pickles

South of the Equator Somen

putting makeup on 300x224 South of the Equator SomenThe sailing world is fraught with myths, legends, and tradition.  That it is bad luck have a woman on a boat may have fallen by the wayside (for some at least), but others remain.  In name at least.  Some, like the equator crossing tradition can be a fun way to break up a long passage.

To cross the equator you need the sea god’s permission. There are different takes on it.  Some legends state that newbies, the people who haven’t crossed before,  must perform a ritual.  Others say that the oldest member on board must make the sacrifice, but luckily (for me) Sato San decided that the newbies had to come up with the skit.

 

 

xequator crossing wsally 300x225 South of the Equator SomenRather than doing an actual skit we agreed that we would do a picture skit.  Each scene would be a still shot and the pictures would say everything.  No memorizing lines, no action.  Just implied action.  Apparently this kind of thing was extremely popular in Japan.

Toshi San and I thought about it for a few days.  Cross dressing and nudity were common in these ceremonies.  I vetoed removing any of my clothes, or wearing a coconut bra or Brazilian string bikini the guys had been suggesting.  Cross dressing on the other hand… now that was a definite possibility.  And who better than to dress up as a woman than Sato San, the biggest advocate of me wearing less clothes.

 

 

 

killing mermaid 2 300x225 South of the Equator SomenHere’s how our story went:

The winds had died because we needed to ask the sea god’s permission to cross the equator.  The sea god needed a sacrifice.

One sailor catches a beautiful mermaid (as played by Sato San) and decides to give her to the sea god to marry.

One sailor prepares the mermaid for the marriage but gets jealous that the mermaid is marrying a god so calls in  her friend in Pacific Al Quanaika (the word means “where it is” in Japanese, but Toshi San wanted it as a play on Al Qaeda) who stabs the mermaid

 

xmermaid sato san 300x225 South of the Equator SomenThe sea god appears saying he doesn’t want his beautiful mermaid hurt or need a sacrifice so he brings her back to life with rum. (this is also a joke as alcohol can be used to kill fish)

The sea god brings the wind and everyone happily sings a song.

It must have worked.  Not half an hour later a pod of 7 small whales, possibly pilot whales breached alongside of us.  I was delighted watching the creatures surfaces so close to the hull.  Sato San, on the other hand just wanted them gone.  They weren’t big, only 2-3 times the size of a dolphin, with curious rounded heads and dark bodies.

When Toshi San made the joke about whale steaks I knew the gentle giants must not have seen the Japanese flag.

 

xcrossing equator 300x225 South of the Equator SomenOne of our favorite meals is somen.  It’s quick, easy, and delicious on a hot day, which we get quite a few of in equatorial waters.  Somen isn’t for rough seas, but it’s a great thing to eat on calm waters, at anchor, or in a marina.  Healthy, delicious, and above all easy it’s a fun cool meal for crew to eat together on the deck with a breeze blowing over you.

 

 

 

 

South of the Equator Somen

Ingredients:

  • DSCN0977 300x224 South of the Equator Somen1 500 gram package of somen noodles
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ carrot, julienned
  • 1 can fish (sardines or Japanese canned fish)
  • ½ cucumber, julienned
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ c katsuo dipping sauce
  • Wasabi

Instructions:

  • Boil water
  • Put somen in and cook for 2 minutes
  • Drain and run cold water over noodles until cool (it stops the noodles cooking and cools them)
  • Fry eggs in small, oiled pan (ideally square) over medium heat about 2 minutes on one side and flip.
  • Slice egg into very thin slices
  • Arrange egg and veggies on a plate with fish in the middle
  • Set on table with wasabi and katsuo
  • Each person has a little bowl and each person makes their own lunch:
  • Pour katsuo dipping sauce into bowl
  • Stir in wasabi to taste
  • Sprinkle in spring onions
  • Add noodles, veggies and fish
  • Refill bowl and eat until full!

Jettison Japanese Curry

ship2 300x225 Jettison Japanese CurryIt was dark when we set sail.  Of course we had meant to leave during the day, but as with many of the best laid plans, this one fell by the wayside.

I was preparing dinner when the police boat sped up to us.  Who were we?  Where were we heading?, the officer wanted to know.  Did we have permission to go past La Playita?

I apologized and explained as calmly as I could that sailing vessel Umineko was were setting sail for the Marquesas. We had not known that we required permission.  Would it be possible for us to continue on our course?

The officer seemed flustered but I apologized profusely.  He told us to be absolutely sure not to go past La Playita without informing them 24-hours in advance ever again.  I gave him my word that I would never be so inconsiderate again and that seemed to placate him.  We had to be careful of a few ships that night but it was a pretty quiet night so everything would be okay.

Moon 300x224 Jettison Japanese CurryI thanked him again and got off the VHF radio and  back to dinner preparations in the galley.

One of our go-to meals on Umineko is Japanese curry.  When I joined Umineko I loved Indian curry and Thai curry, but I’d never even heard of Japanese curry.  Well apparently Japanese curry is one of the most popular every-day Japanese dishes.

Though extremely popular curry isn’t technically a traditional Japanese dish.  Toshi San explained that British colonists brought curry back on their way from India.  Though curry itself isn’t traditionally Japanese they have made it their own.  Japanese curry isn’t as spicy as many Indian or Thai curries.  Another uniquely Japanese twist is that it is invariably served with fukujinzuke, a sweet pickle mixture.  Well, invariably served on Umineko at least.

Jettison Japanese Curry

Ingredients:Japanese curry 300x224 Jettison Japanese Curry

  • 4 squares Golden Curry
  • 750 ml (2 ½ cups) water
  • 1 carrot, sliced (thick slices)
  • 1 potato, halved and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • Fukujinzuke (optional)

 

Directions:

  • Cook rice
  • In deep skillet, sauté onions in oil  over medium heat
  • Add potato and carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Pour in 500 ml water and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Stir in curry squares (broken up) until dissolved
  • Cook another 5 minutes slowly adding remaining water
  • Crack eggs Into curry and cook for an additional minute
  • Serve steaming hot beside rice
  • Enjoy!

Jettison Japanese Curry

ship2 300x225 Jettison Japanese CurryIt was dark when we set sail.  Of course we had meant to leave during the day, but as with many of the best laid plans, this one fell by the wayside.

I was preparing dinner when the police boat sped up to us.  Who were we?  Where were we heading?, the officer wanted to know.  Did we have permission to go past La Playita?

I apologized and explained as calmly as I could that sailing vessel Umineko was were setting sail for the Marquesas. We had not known that we required permission.  Would it be possible for us to continue on our course?

The officer seemed flustered but I apologized profusely.  He told us to be absolutely sure not to go past La Playita without informing them 24-hours in advance ever again.  I gave him my word that I would never be so inconsiderate again and that seemed to placate him.  We had to be careful of a few ships that night but it was a pretty quiet night so everything would be okay.

Moon 300x224 Jettison Japanese CurryI thanked him again and got off the VHF radio and  back to dinner preparations in the galley.

One of our go-to meals on Umineko is Japanese curry.  When I joined Umineko I loved Indian curry and Thai curry, but I’d never even heard of Japanese curry.  Well apparently Japanese curry is one of the most popular every-day Japanese dishes.

Though extremely popular curry isn’t technically a traditional Japanese dish.  Toshi San explained that British colonists brought curry back on their way from India.  Though curry itself isn’t traditionally Japanese they have made it their own.  Japanese curry isn’t as spicy as many Indian or Thai curries.  Another uniquely Japanese twist is that it is invariably served with fukujinzuke, a sweet pickle mixture.  Well, invariably served on Umineko at least.

Jettison Japanese Curry

Ingredients:Japanese curry 300x224 Jettison Japanese Curry

  • 4 squares Golden Curry
  • 750 ml (2 ½ cups) water
  • 1 carrot, sliced (thick slices)
  • 1 potato, halved and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • Fukujinzuke (optional)

 

Directions:

  • Cook rice
  • In deep skillet, sauté onions in oil  over medium heat
  • Add potato and carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Pour in 500 ml water and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Stir in curry squares (broken up) until dissolved
  • Cook another 5 minutes slowly adding remaining water
  • Crack eggs Into curry and cook for an additional minute
  • Serve steaming hot beside rice
  • Enjoy!

Charter Chirashi Sushi

DSCN1054 300x225 Charter Chirashi SushiThe barter system is still thriving in the sailing community.  One of my favorite trades was on Elephant Island in San Blas.  I traded some banana bread for a winch handle.  I was delighted with my side, but the Australian couple seemed equally pleased with their banana bread.  The woman even threw in some clothes she liked the bread so much!  That isn’t quite the norm though.

At Shelter Bay marina by Colon, Panama was a party every night.  Not only were the fabulous people from WARC 2014 there, but as with most marinas there were interesting people living on many of the boats.  We befriended one megayacht’s crew, a young South African  surfer and a wry Brit.  They had caught an enormous tuna a few days earlier and asked me if I wanted any of the meat.

 

I jumped on the offer and told them that I would cook them dinner with it.  This kind of barter on boats is a lot more common.  Very few yachts have a ton of freezer space and even fewer have a flash freezer.  When a crew of four catches a 20-lb tuna you’re a) going to be eating a lot of tuna for a while and b) will have to give away at least some of it if you don’t want to throw it away.

This leads to quite a few presents and exchanges of fish between yachties.  And if you’re given fish it only makes sense to cook it for your patron.

What could we do with delicious fresh tuna though?  Sashimi was an option, of course, but that was more of a starter.  We needed something for a lovely dinner party.

I first tried chirashi sushi, or chirashizushi in Argentina when my lovely friend Machiko invited me over for dinner.   I fell in love with it from the first bite.  Chirashizushi means “scattered” sushi and it is also a favorite in Japanese home cooking.  Since then I have tried chirashi sushi in a restaurant, rice with decadent slabs of sashimi, but I really prefer the homemade variety.

It isn’t hard to make, and like so many Japanese dishes it looks beautiful.  If you bring chirashi sushi you will be sure to be the hit of the dinner party.

 

Charter Chirashi SushiDSCN1056 300x225 Charter Chirashi Sushi

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups short grained or sushi rice
  • 1 packet Tamanoi Sushinoko sushi rice seasoning powder
  • 3 lbs fresh tuna (3-days old is ideal)
  • Pickled daikon, thinly sliced or shredded
  • Nori, cut into thin strips
  • Kazimi ginger (pink pickled ginger in thin strips)
  • 2 eggs

 

 

Directions:

 

  • Cook rice
  • Spread in large bowl,  and fan to cool
  • Gently fold in sushi rice seasoning powder using flat rice spoon
  • You shouldn’t make the sushi rice so far in advance that you need to refrigerate it.  In fact, it should never be refrigerated.  The ideal sushi rice is served at body temperature.
  • Spread on a flat platter
  • Beat the eggs and cook 2 minutes over medium heat in small square skillet if you have one.  A small skillet will do.
  • Flip and cook the other side about 1 minute
  • Turn onto cutting board and cut into thin strips (it’s called tamagoyaki)
  • Cut fish into bite-sized chunks
  • Arrange fish, kazami ginger, tamagoyaki, nori strips, and pickled daikon strips over rice
  • Serve and enjoy!

DSCN1058 300x225 Charter Chirashi Sushi

Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

DSCN0956 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

Sailing into Chichime Island, skirting shipwrecks and coral heads, was stunning.  A lush palm forest ringed in transparent turquoise.  I understood why backpackers paid upwards of $500 for a week squeezed into tourist boats like so many sardines to visit the famed San Blas Islands.  A glimpse of this paradise was almost worth it.

Dozens of masts reached up to the sky greeting us as we sailed up to Chichime Island, San Blas.  We were with the World ARC round-the-world rally, at least through the Panama canal.  It wouldn’t be anything like sailing with the previous year’s WARC rally since we would just be with them for a few weeks.  Still, both Sato San and I were more than a little nostalgic.

 

DSCN0990 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage OmeletWhen the Rally Control, or WARC organizers, boat motored up to us in a little dinghy, we were delighted to see some of our old friends.  To make it even better, we were in San Blas, Islands which I had been curious about ever since I heard about them years before when traveling through Colombia.

For a first breakfast in San Blas I had made one of my favorite omelets.  Fish sausages are one of my favorite cruising foods. In reality they are really less of sausages and more like plastic-wrapped fish hot dogs.  Actually that’s not quite fair as they are really tasty.  The most exciting thing about them, and what makes them a wonderful cruising food is that they don’t need refrigeration.  I’m really not sure how many preservatives are used in them, but they last for ages.

 

The fish sausages can be used in a lot of things, but one of my favorites is to make an omelet out of them.

Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil, to grease the panDSCN1022 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage Omelet
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ c milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Japanese fish sausage, sliced
  • 2 slices cheese, halved
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped

Directions:

  • DSCN1023 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage OmeletWhisk together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper
  • Heat oiled large nonstick skillet over medium heat
  • Sauté onion and pepper in small skillet, about 5 minutes
  • Pour egg mixture into pan and cook until starting to solidify, 2-3 minutes
  • Sprinkle onion mixture over half of the omelet (the less-cooked half if there is one)
  • Arrange fish sausage over mixture
  • Lay cheese slices on top
  • Fold omelet over the filled side and cook another 2 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

Captain’s Kombu Kale

I cried when we left Cuba.  I had to!  Well, if I wanted to leave, that is.

DSCN0932 Captains Kombu  Kale

Half-sunken ship in Cien Fuegos marina

Immigration always makes me nervous, no matter how many times I cross a border I invariably tense when dealing with the shifty border officials.  You never know what hoops they will make the foreigner jump through or what taxes, bribes, or fines they will expect you to pay.  Or if they are just in a bad mood or are bored what power trip they will try and pull.  Crossing the border from Zimbabwe to South Africa the South African border guards made us wait 24-hours and then threatened to make our bus wait another 24-hours before they would let us in the country.  Border guards have absolute power and you know what they say about absolute power.

Now I understand entry formalities, countries don’t want bugs coming in on foreign food.  They need to make sure no one is bringing drugs, weapons, or anything from a long list of banned items that a country might quarantine.  But exiting is usually a breeze.  Especially in a yacht.  The United States, the Bahamas, and many other countries don’t even need you to get an exit stamp!  Cuba on the other hand is quite different.

It was raining our departure day.  A miserable drizzle that soaked everything.   It had been interesting to visit Cuba but I was more than ready to get on to Panama.  The longer we were there the more I realized it:  Cuba is decidedly not a country for cruisers.  At least not cruisers who don’t like getting stuck in red tape.

We finished a last-minute provisioning before heading out and waited for the dock master to check us out.

He showed up right on time, he brought a massive entourage with him.  I gaped as a formidable gentleman, clearly in charge, two women, and a man with a large German shepherd in tow, all filed onto Umineko.  Suddenly the spacious saloon seemed cramped.

The dock master explained to us in his limited English, that the gentleman with an air of authority was the customs officer.  He needed to check our boat to see if we were taking anything out of the country that we shouldn’t.

head of immigration 300x225 Captains Kombu  Kale

head of immigration in Varadero

What not to take leaving  the country?  I was confused.  I was more baffled when the dog was led on a once-over of the boat.  Looking for drugs, the dock master explained.  Apparently Cuba wants to keep their drugs within the borders.

The customs stepped up next.   Peering at me over his bushy grey moustache.  When he asked if we had anyone on board who hadn’t been on board when we had arrived I understood.  He was checking for stow-aways or people trying to escape.

No, I told him, just us.

Had we bought any Tobacco during our stay?  He asked next.

No, I told him… my heart raced.  I didn’t have a receipt for the expensive cigars I had gotten.

Had we bought any art?

Art?  Well, I couldn’t really lie about that given one of my fellow crew members had the numerous paintings he had bought hanging all over his room to prevent the fresh paint from sticking.

I led him around the boat him looking in every cabinet, nook and cranny for anything we shouldn’t be taking out of the country.  Then he got to Mori San’s berth, practically wallpapered with paintings he had bought on the streets of Havana.

The officer told me he needed to see the receipt.   A game of telephone-translation between Mori San who only spoke Japanese and the officer who was limited to Spanish ensued.  We didn’t have receipts because the paintings had been bought on the street.

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Hanging paintings covered in garbage bags

The officer was not pleased with that answer.  We couldn’t take the paintings out of the country without the receipts, he insisted.  At once it made sense.  Cuba was a communist country:  the artwork the painter produces doesn’t belong to the painter.  It belongs to the government.  Buying a painting directly from the painter was essentially stealing from the government.   But how could I explain that?

The officer was getting annoyed with me, the crew and captain were frustrated with me.  I continued showing the officer the Port hull, apologizing and allowing myself get increasingly upset.  By the time we reached my berth, tears were welling up in my eyes.

He sat me down on my bed and explained to me that he knew it wasn’t my fault.  He would let it go.  This once.  But he could get in a lot of trouble for what he was doing.

I don’t know if he wanted a bribe.  After he told me that we could go I did my best not to look at him.  I never found out why the women were there, nor did I want to ask anything.  I just wanted to leave before they found an excuse to keep us.

After the unexpected exit stress I was all for cooking a simple dinner.  One of my favorite cruising vegetables is kale.  It lasts weeks and weeks without showing its age, and doesn’t bruise or squish easily either.  Better yet it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals.  Some people like to eat it raw but I’m not quite so hardcore.  I prefer to steam it.

But steamed kale can be a little boring.  Just little splash of kombu soup stock can transform it into one of the most delicious things imaginable.

Kombu dashi is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking.  It is a soup stock made out of seaweed.  Though it is generally sold as powder, you can also buy it in little bottles.  Powdered dashi is great to throw in miso soup, or other recipes.  However, I really do like bottled kombu soup stock better especially when using as the main flavor in a dish.

 

Captain’s Kombu Kale

kombu kale 300x225 Captains Kombu  KaleIngredients:

  • 4 c chopped kale leaves, stems removed
  • ¼ c kombu soup stock

 

Directions:

  • Chop leaves  into bite-sized portions.
  • Cook large pot with  ½” of water at the bottom
  • Drain and toss with kombu soup stock

Sloop Soba Salmon

xbienvenidos Sloop Soba Salmon

 

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xvaradero 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonVaradero isn’t Cuba,” countless people told us.  It’s just for tourists.  You can’t see the real Cuba there.  When we got to Havana I had to agree.  Havana seemed like a different world from the famous beaches,  performances, and posh hotels catering to foreigners of the lauded beach town.

 

 

 

 

xclassiccars2 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonBut when we left Havana it was the same.  Everyone told us Havana wasn’t the real Cuba.  So what is the real Cuba?  Cuba isn’t one country.  Every city and place I visited was completely different from every other place.  Havana: the post-apocalyptic Cartagena and most photogenic city I have ever visited.  But less than an hour away, the sleepy little town of Jaimanitas, is ideologically a world apart.

 

 

 

 

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Cien Fuegus

Cien Fuegos: a charming well-ordered town with a Peruvian feel to its downtown.  On the Southern coast, it was never built up for the visiting American jetsetters in the 40s and 50s so it doesn’t have the feel of an abandoned once-great city.  No, everything is clean and seems like it runs quite well.  Well, most things.  Internet access and the marina not having a shower were the two things that really hurt.  Internet access may be painfully slow and expensive in Havana and Varadero but it is possible.  It wasn’t even possible at the posh hotels in Cien Fuegos when I visited.   Like stepping back in time.

 

 

 

 

xtrinidaddonkey 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonSpeaking of stepping back in time, about an hour’s drive from Cien Fuegos lies Trinidad, xtrinidadseller 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonCuba’s oldest city and a UNESCO world heritage site.  Weavers, artists, and other artisans with purses made out of coke can tops and every other recycled product set up their stalls along the narrow cobblestone streets.  Trinidad is a tourist trap, but the history, culture and the feel of the place make it delightful anyway.

 

 

xcountryside 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonTrinidad was charming, but I was almost more surprised by the countryside.  It is something entirely different entirely.  Truly like stepping back in time.  People ride horses, use oxen to pull carts.  More often than not the buses are wagons drawn by horses.  Men cut down high grass with sickles on the roadside.  This wasn’t going back to the 50s.  This was going back several centuries.

 

 

 

 

xcountryside2 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonThe Cuban government doesn’t want tourists visiting the countryside.  Well, to be fair it isn’t really geared towards tourism.  Buses don’t go there, there aren’t tourist accommodations in the smaller towns.  My visit to a home in the country was a trip to a yachtie’s boxing instructor’s house.  I visited a yachtie’s boxing instructor’s home. unfinished cinderblock home reminded me of some of the country homes I had seen in Zambia.  Nothing that I had seen in my travels in South America, but the house was according to the yachtie, far and away nicer than what it had been just a few months before.  He had built it himself and was inexorably proud of the place. Surrounded by banana trees, it was nice that he had fresh fruit so close.

 

 

xcountryside3 300x225 Sloop Soba SalmonThe country life, according to an expat yachtie, who had lived at Marina Hemmingway on and off for 7 years, was the real Cuba.  The Cuba that tourists didn’t see.  But I am not sure that I could define any one part of Cuba I saw as the real Cuba.  Everywhere is so incredibly different from everywhere else.  I would love to see more of the countryside, to visit the tobacco plantations, and explore the mountains.  Maybe even discover the “real” Cuba.   There is always next time.

Not that salmon has much to do with Cuba, other than that I made this delicious dish while Umineko was in a marina in Cuba with frozen fillets we had bought in the United States.   To be perfectly honest I didn’t even see salmon on a menu while I was there, but this dish is too tasty not to put up.

Sloop Soba Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 T ginger paste
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ c mirin
  • ⅓ soy
  • 2 T sake
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 400 g soba

Directions:

  • Boil soba about 5 minutes
  • Drain and run cold water to stop cooking, set aside
  • Mix sake, soy, sugar, and ginger paste in small bowl stirring until sugar is dissolved, set aside
  • Fry garlic in sesame oil in large skillet about 3 min over med heat
  • Cook salmon fillets in oil, 2 minutes per side, just enough to brown
  • Place salmon on plate
  • Pour sauce into skillet and cook until mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken
  • Return salmon to pan and cook 2 minutes more on each side, sauce will reduce to glaze
  • Serve over soba noodles

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