Archive of ‘Sauces’ category

Oceanic Oyster mushroom Gnocchi

xoyster gn 2 300x225 Oceanic Oyster mushroom Gnocchi

“I don’t like hyenas. They’re so ugly! They just look vicious,” the French-Canadian man stated.  That was how the argument started. Bev, the lovely Australian cruiser, chimed in against the hyena. I wasn’t having any of it.  Hyenas fascinate me.  This maligned straw-man of the Serengeti.  Everyone thinks of them as canine, but they are genetically closer to cats.  It always upset me how people just assumed that they were mean and evil because they didn’t fit our paradigm of beauty.

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I had wanted desperately to see them on my safari in Etosha park in Namibia.  We saw everything else– a leopard, lions, rhinos, elephants, and almost every other large animal in the park.  All but hyenas.  The lone hyena we had seen was all-but invisible through the torrential rain.

I was delighted that Havana’s zoo had a pack.  Several leggy hyenas paced in one cage.  A crowd of people gathered around watching the animals.  Adjacent to the popular animals was another cage which held a lone animal.  The petite creature stood gazing wistfully out utterly ignoring the juicy steaks laid on the ground.

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With over-sized saucer-ears and a rounded black nose that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a plush teddy-bear, the hyena had a sweet, almost chow-like face.  Her dark eyes gazed up at me and she shuffled over to the cage’s corner where I was standing.

I put my palm up to the cage and the tan snout delicately sniffed it before making a little “whuff.”  The teddy bear nose pressed closer into the fence’s large openings and a cold, wet nose brushed my hand. Moments later the hyena lay down next to the fence.  I felt badly for the poor thing.  This pack animal was being kept separate from her friends.  Sure she could see other hyenas, but no contact.

Almost without thinking, I reached through the wire and gave her back a tentative scratch, watching carefully to see her reaction.  The spotted girl stretched her paw forward and leaned into my hand.  She couldn’t have shown enjoyment more clearly if she had used words.

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The coarse, shaggy coat was stiff against my fingers as I continued to pet the good girl. In a clear, “no here,” the hyena rolled over on her back for a tummy rub. I, of course, obliged and she stretched her neck out, closing her eyes.

15 minutes I pet the hyena while a brazen stray cat munched her steak lunch.  Suddenly she opened her mouth and I immediately withdrew my hand.  What was she doing?  Still on her back, she bit at the wire fence between the two cages. I watched amazed as the young girl rolled over onto her feet, carefully closed her jaws around a metal bar, lifted it and drew it to one side.  She was trying to open the door!  I wished I had more time to get to know her but the others wanted to see the rest of the zoo as well.

What possessed me to pet a hyena?  Well, I really wasn’t thinking.  It did just happen organically, looking back a number of factors made me do it.

1. Zoo patrons could go directly up to the cage. For the big cats, raptors, monkeys, crocodiles, and other clearly dangerous animals barricades prevented silly patrons from animal/patron contact

2. She clearly had had a good deal of human contact

3. The hyena initiated the contact. That said, I was still wary of any change in her behavior.  Wild animals are wild, even if they are in a zoo.  In other words, don’t try this at home kids.

Havana zoo may not be the best-funded zoo, but it is unquestionably the most interesting zoo I have been to and certainly the most hands-on.  Aside from the hyena, a zoo keeper let me pet a hippo who ambled over to the fence and the deer and antelope were all quite happy with people giving them handfuls of grass.

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Many of the cages did not look particularly nice or natural, though the park was wooded and did have nature surrounding. However the animals did seem sleek and well-cared for and many of them had babies or young ones.  The jaguar had two blue-eyed cubs, there were young lionesses in the lions cage, as well as numerous others.

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By the time we left the zoo my companions were singing a different tune about hyenas.  Intelligent, sweet and altogether misunderstood, we all agreed.

As we were leaving the zoo I spotted oyster mushrooms.  I didn’t feel entirely right taking them, but Bev talked me into it.  No one else was going to eat them.  After all, we had seen older oyster mushrooms in several other places in the zoo. Mycology clearly wasn’t popular in Cuba.  After agonizing over the decision for a few minutes I finally decided that we were going to have an oyster gnocchi pasta for dinner.

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This really is a post of don’t try this at home.  My parents are mycologists so I grew up learning about mushrooms.  I would never have picked wild mushrooms if I hadn’t been certain what they were.  That said oyster mushrooms are delicious.  You can buy them in more and more groceries and farmers markets around the world.  They are white and have a faint odor and delicate flavor of oysters hence their name oyster mushrooms.

Fresh mushrooms do make a delightful change in the everyday fare and I was overjoyed to make a dish around these “choice edibles,” as the mycologists call them.  Altogether it was a fantastic first full day in Havana.  I may not have seen anything of the legendary city or its famed culture, architecture, history, or music, but going off the beaten path and improvising is what life is all about.  Right?

I never travel with fresh mushrooms, but I absolutely love cooking with whatever fresh local delights I find.  If you manage to pick up some oyster mushrooms in your travels, this is a delicious way to cook them.  Even if not, the wine sauce is pretty tasty by itself

xoyster gn 3 300x225 Oceanic Oyster mushroom Gnocchi

Oceanic Oyster mushroom Gnocchi

Ingredients:
1 package gnocchi
1⁄2 onion
1⁄4 c butter
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. oyster mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite-sized chunks
2 c white wine
1 t corn starch
1 t thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cranberries
Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Cook gnocchi in boiling water about 7 minutes
Drain and set aside
Sauté onions and garlic in 1T butter about 3 minutes in large skillet
Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme
Add oyster mushrooms and butter, sauté another 2 minutes
Mix corn starch into wine, stirring well
Pour wine mixture into skillet and cook another 5 minutes over medium-low heat
Divide gnocchi onto plates
Pour sauce over each plate
Sprinkle dried cranberries over dishes
Enjoy!

Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

x ginger pancakes Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

Umineko has been plagued with sickness.  Nothing terribly serious, but I’ve had a cough for weeks and now Mori San has come down with it too. Cough drops, vitamin C… all to no avail I even got one bottle of cough syrup in George Town, went through it, and started on the second.  Nothing could shake the miserable cough. I didn’t feel bad, other than feeling a little guilty for preparing food with a persistent cough. I even started wearing surgical masks while I cooked.

It could have been the weather. Grey skies and rain had plagued us throughout our time in “sunny” Florida, and the sullen weather had followed us all the way to Nassau.  Even though vitamin C tablets weren’t working I wanted to do everything I could to kick the cough.  Especially after Mori San caught it.  Soup is fantastic, but not always the most practical at sea.  Ginger on the other hand.  Ginger is the miracle cure for everything.  From seasickness to pretty much anything that ails you.  And so ginger it was.  I slipped a little (or a lot) of ginger into almost every meal, until miraculously the weather, and our coughs vanished a couple days outside of Nassau.

We anchored off of Shroud Cay, an island we had gotten an inside tip on, well, the prettiest beach in the Bahamas lay just through a thicket of mangroves.  Sato San, Taira San and I set out to see this beautiful beach, both of them in the dinghy, me paddle boarding behind.

 

paddle board and dinghy Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

We crept through the maze of winding mangrove channels.  How the plants managed to thrive in salt water always impressed me.  I love exploring mangroves. No matter how rough the seas outside get, the waters inside provide a calm haven.  A separate ecosystem grow up around their roots.

 

mangrove channel Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

We trekked over a sandy hill scrub brush covered hill at the end of the channel.  There it was: the secluded white sandy beach so unlike most other beaches in the Bahamas.  A make-shift swing hung from a tree branch and several hammocks that had succumbed to the ravages of time hung in tatters marking the work of cruisers before us.

We played on the beach to our hearts content, but the wind was picking up.  We needed to get back to the boat and move on.  Sailing in 15-20 knots is gorgeous.  Dinghying in that is less fun.

One of my favorite creations from the sick days was ginger pancakes with ginger sauce.  I am a confessed pancake syrup snob. Our store of Canadian maple syrup was dwindling and I wouldn’t subject myself or anyone else on Umineko to fake maple syrup.  The only thing to do was to make my own syrups or sauces.

Ginger honey butter is a stand-out sauce that would grace any pancake, ginger or not.  It isn’t bad drizzled on bread either…

 

 

Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

2 cup milk

3 c flour

2 T lime juice

¼ c sugar

2 eggs

1 t baking soda

2 t baking powder

½ t salt

 

Ginger sauce

1 T ground ginger

2 T grated ginger

1 T honey

4 T butter

x beach fun Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

 

x beach jump Ginger Pancakes with Ginger Honey

 

 

Tidal Thyme Cream Sauce

x gnocchi 2 Tidal Thyme Cream Sauce

 

 

Americans don’t need tourist visas to Cuba!  How could they?  Americans couldn’t go to Cuba, or at least they couldn’t spend money there.  That would be “Trading with the Enemy.”  When Sato San first started talking about getting visas to Cuba in Nassau I was sure I wouldn’t need one.

Right, why would Cuba charge the people of a country that put an embargo on them?  Ahh well, hindsight is 20/20.  Clearly I was wrong, but on the up side Cuba doesn’t charge US citizens any more than other countries.

The Cuban Embassy has outsourced its visas.  Well, technically Cuba doesn’t have visas.  They have “tourist cards.”  You get them at tour agencies!  Havanatur sells them $15 for a tourist card in Nassau.

Just go, give them the money and you get your tourist card.  Of course you have to brave the mean streets of Nassau to get there.

Nassau is a trip, and I do mean that in the vernacular.  With dingy strip-malls and rundown street markets, a good portion of the island gives the impression of the Bahamas being a developing country.

Or more accurately, a colony abandoned by its benefactor.  Juxtaposed with that is the opulence of Atlantis, the island’s 5 star resort, rising out of the meager background.  The resort is a get-away for Americans with more money than time who want the comforts of home paired with tropical weather and an island setting.

We didn’t actually make it to Atlantis or its casino, but sailing past was enough for me.  (Okay, I might be talked into visiting sometime.)  The building is stunning, but when you see the rest of the island and how the locals live it does seem a little out of place.

x atlantis email Tidal Thyme Cream Sauce

Yacht Haven marina, where we moored, is a far cry from Atlantis. It isn’t terrible by any means; decent showers, hot water, wifi… but the street outside is like stepping into the ghetto.  And that was where I had to go to get my tourist card.

I wished I had sent my passport with Sato San so he could pick it up for me, but I really hadn’t thought I’d need one.  The travel agency was on the same street as the Marina, not even a long walk.  Still, taxi drivers tried to solicit my business every half a block or so.

The agency didn’t look like much from the outside and was almost empty.  Still, I had to wait almost an hour to get my tourist card. Not an involved process by any means.

Still, it was late afternoon by the time I got back to the boat.  I had my tourist card. Everything was set – we were going to Cuba!  I had to make a celebration dinner.

I am a big fan of cream sauces and gnocchi sounded good. You don’t have to use cream, for a lighter version just use half a cup extra of plain yogurt and the sauce is still delicious.

 

 

Tidal Thyme cream sauce

 

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T butter

¾ c plain yogurt

½ c cream

1 t thyme

1 t salt

1 t pepper

1 T corn starch

 

Directions:

Sauté garlic in butter over medium heat 3 minutes

Turn temperature down to low and add yogurt, cream, and seasonings

Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally

Add corn starch, stir in well and cook another minute

Serve over gnocchi or other pasta (I’m a sucker for gnocchi though) and garnish with dried cranberries

x conch seller Tidal Thyme Cream Sauce

Naval Napa Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

DSCN9360 300x225 Naval Napa Salad with Spicy Peanut DressingUmineko set out for Allan’s Cay with iguanas in our minds.  We had had to delay a day due to foul weather and the wrong winds, but we were more than ready to leave grey, dreary Nassau.  I should have known something was up when one of the resident sailors at Nassau Yacht Haven looked at us incredulously that morning. “You’re going out in this?”  His charter for the day had canceled.  Probably a wise move on their part.

It was James Bond sailing: shaken not stirred.  The shallow Bahamian seas tossed us about relentlessly, the sullen grey skies spitting rain.  The wind wasn’t from a terrible angle but comfortable was about the last thing one would call the passage.

Unfortunately the winds were not in favor of us visiting Allan’s Cay that day.  Instead we anchored off of a nearby cay and huddled inside listening to the rain course down the boat.  As Sato San pointed out, it was wonderful for washing off Umineko’s well-salted decks after the rolly passage.

I wasn’t about to let the rain drive me to making carb-heavy comfort food.  Anyway, I still needed to use up some napa cabbage left over from the previous night’s hot pot.  I settled on a happy medium.  A salad with peanut dressing.

I adore peanut butter.  In sauces, cookies, soups… pretty much any form you can think of.  This dressing is definitely a winner.  It adds protein and flavor to the salad.  You don’t even have to serve it as a side dish.  I ate it alone for my dinner.

Naval Napa Salad

with

Spicy Peanut Dressing

Ingredients:

  • DSCN9366 300x225 Naval Napa Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing2 c napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • Dried cranberries
  • Peanut dressing:
  • 3 T peanut butter
  • 2 T soy
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 t siriracha

Directions:

  • Mix peanut dressing in small bowl and set aside.
  • Chop napa cabbage into bite-sized chunks and put into large mixing bowl
  • Slice carrot into fine strips, cut in half, and toss with cabbage
  • Pour dressing over and toss until salad is coated in dressing
  • Garnish with dried cranberries

DSCN9365 1024x768 Naval Napa Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Becalmed Penne with Bleu Cheese Beet Sauce

photo 1 Copy 300x225 Becalmed Penne with Bleu Cheese Beet SauceDo you want to cure a woman of ever wanting to go shopping again?  Put her in charge of provisioning a boat for an off-shore adventure.  That will cure the most die-hard shopaholic of her habit.

Years ago, at the start of my first long sailing trip,  I couldn’t understand Lindsey’s, my crewmate, aversion to supermarkets, Walmarts, and Home Depots.  I had joined the crew of the Leeway at the tail end of provisioning for our adventure.  Lindsey, on the other hand had been shopping for weeks straight.  Now I understand.

I loathe Provisioning.  Not shopping for a little trip, or picking up a few things here and there.  I’m talking about Provisioning.  With a capital P.  All-out shop-til-you literally want to drop.  On one provisioning expedition in Malaysia I came out of the store with a receipt over 7’ long.  I could hold it up as high as my arm could reach, stand on my tip toes and the paper still curled on the ground

Everywhere in the world has food!  Why buy the entire store?  Well, technically you don’t have to, but if you are heading to the Bahamas especially you might want to think about filling your galley to the point of bursting.  Provisioning in many island nations can be prohibitively expensive.  Not to mention the selection being extremely limited.  I remember before Cocos (Keeling) Island cruisers were given a list of foods that could be shipped in to the island to buy.  A head of lettuce was $25.

Of course you’ll want to pick up a few fresh fruits and veggies, and in some places local markets are wonderful for that.  But if you’re on a budget you’ll want to keep what you need to buy to a minimum.  Sure it’s entertaining going into Western supermarkets in Nassau to look at the small  bags of lettuce “on sale” for $10, but groceries really are three times as expensive.  When they’re available at all.

DSCN9182 300x225 Becalmed Penne with Bleu Cheese Beet SauceAnd so I gritted my teeth and went provisioning.  I wrote a post on couchsurfing, asking if anyone had a costco card and would help me with provisioning.  Costco might not be my first choice for everyday shopping, but when you are buying supplies for months in advance it’s a good way to go.  wonderful gentleman Don offered to take me.

I felt a little bad but he assured me that he realized what he was in for.  After 3 ½ hours of shopping at costco and 2 carts filled to brimming, we headed to get some additional supplies at Publix, another grocery for 2 more carts.  Did I mention the day-trip to the Asian supermarket?  Yeah.

The one good thing about provisioning is that you do want to get rid of the tail ends you have left over, so the night before I threw together a blue-cheese beet pasta.  We had some blue cheese that needed to be used up and a few beets and the resulting pasta turned out fantastically.

 

 

Becalmed Penne

with Bleu Cheese Beet Sauce

DSCN9186 Copy 300x225 Becalmed Penne with Bleu Cheese Beet SauceIngredients:

  • 3 oz blue cheese
  • ¼ c walnuts, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 beets, cubed
  • ½ c cream
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c yachting yogurt
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 1 t butter

Directions:

Cook beets 15 min in pressure cooker

Boil penne in water with a splash of olive oil to prevent sticking (I like to use a mixture of ½ fresh water and ½ salt water at sea)

Fry onions in butter until translucent

Stir in walnuts, cream, yogurt, milk

Cook for another 2 minutes on low heat

Drain penne

Put penne and sauce back in pot and mix thoroughly

Serve with a few whole walnuts to garnish

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

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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…

 

 

 

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Seafarer’s Shrimp Alfredo

DSCN8986 1024x768 Seafarers Shrimp AlfredoGeorgetown is beautiful, historic, a must-see if you are in South Carolina.  Rice museums, tea shops, and of course the grand Southern mansions.  I was surprised to learn that South Carolina’s “low country” was the US rice-growing capital and is still the only place in the US that grows its own tea.  It is a very special place with a feel utterly its own.

That is if it hasn’t just burned down the week before you arrive.  Well, the whole downtown hadn’t burned down.  Just 9 or 10 buildings.  Still, the blackened scar surrounded by construction marred the picturesque feel a smidge.  But even the recent disaster didn’t stop the booming shrimping industry.

We were in the heart of shrimp country and I was delighted.  The winged-shrimp boats looked like pirate ships of yore to my eyes.  And these entrepreneurial fishermen even had a store where you could buy shrimp and seafood from the fishermen as soon as they unloaded their wares.  It wasn’t quite as cheap or special as buying them off an actual fisherman, but it was close.

The hours-old shrimp still tasted spectacular in the shrimp alfredo I made that night.

 

Seafarer’s Shrimp Alfredo

Serves 3-4 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c cream
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T freshly rosemary, finely chopped
  • ½ c parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 t salt (or to taste)
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • ¼ lb scallops
  • Dried cranberries for garnish
  • 1 16 oz box of spaghetti or linguini

Directions:

  • Cook spaghetti (I like mine al dente)
  • Drain
  • Fry garlic and onion in bottom of a saucepan in 1 T butter over medium heat until translucent (about 3 minutes)
  • Add rosemary
  • Stir in cream and cheese
  • Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Sauté shrimp and scallops in 1 T butter until just cooked
  • Add to cream sauce
  • Add pasta to original pasta pot
  • Pour in cream sauce and shrimp
  • Scatter dried cranberries on top
  • Enjoy!
  • DSCN8917 1024x768 Seafarers Shrimp Alfredo

    Shrimp Boat

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

Shakedown Basil Cream Sauce

DSCN8789 1024x768 Shakedown Basil Cream Sauce

The ocean welcomed Umineko back with a vigorous shakedown sail.  With gusts up to 39 knots we fairly flew down the coast, surfing at 16 knots.  The chill wind swept us along on a much-needed speedy ride down the Eastern seaboard.

Sails like that  can be fabulous or disastrous with not much room in between.  Thankfully ours went wonderfully, we had prepared well, and even with towering waves crashing over the vessel’s side, the shakedown didn’t dislodge anything.  With one exception.

My basil plant met its watery end.  Salt watery to be specific, an errant wave over the stern.   If there are two things that don’t mix it’s salt water and vegetation.  By the next afternoon my poor plant was turning shades jaundiced yellow rather than the hale and hearty green of its younger days.  I decided to put the unfortunate shrub out of its misery.

This unbelievably simple easy cream sauce is all-but fool proof.  You don’t need to worry about it breaking, honestly it barely even needs heating.  The food processor does all the work, but it is nice to warm it up.

If you have a real food processor on board you might want to make a little more, but our “magic bullet”  (as seen on TV, as Sato San calls it) works brilliantly.  Use it over fish, pasta, or whatever you like.  I used it on salmon and pirogues and found myself regretting not having another basil plant on board.

glory days of the basil plant 1024x768 Shakedown Basil Cream Sauce

glory days of the basil plant

 Basil cream sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 c fresh basil
  • ¼ c walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ c parmesan
  • ½ c cream
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t freshly ground pepper

 Directions:

  • Put basil walnuts, garlic, and cream, salt, and pepper in food processor.
  • Blend until smooth, about 20 seconds
  • Pour mixture into pan, add milk, and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Voila!  You have cream sauce.

DSCN8790 1024x768 Shakedown Basil Cream Sauce

Windlass Shitake Wraps

DSCN8738 1024x768 Windlass Shitake Wraps

Waking up in lock 14

As lock 14 opened, we were the first in line to go through.  Literally.  We had actually slept in the lock the night before.  We needed to get through 14 locks all the way to Albany by the end of the day.  We pushed and pushed but the sun was already starting to set by the time we made it to the first guard gate before the flight of five locks at Lockport.  We radioed but no luck.  Finally, as a last resort I called Jeff the Erie Canal Navigation manager.  We just had to make it through to Albany.

Once again Jeff saved the day and got the operators to get us through the flight.  We sneaked past Troy Federal lock in the nick of time just before they closed at 10 and motored into Albany in the Erie barely lit by my crewmate Mori-San shining a lamp to make sure no logs or flotsam was in our way.

By the time we finally moored I was beyond exhausted, but between holding lines and pushing walls and closing times to get through the locks I hadn’t had time to even think about dinner.

Wraps are a staple for quick and easy lunches or a late-night snack while on watch.  Tortillas keep for ages without molding and you can put pretty much anything inside of them.   These wraps are more for a little more involved than just throwing something together but it’s worth it.

Crewing on a Japanese boat, I find myself using a lot more soy sauce and ginger in my cooking than I normally do.  But I always used those.  The   I have discovered a new favorite ingredient.  Corn starch.  It’s flavorless, doesn’t add color, texture, or nutritional value, but I am hooked.  You can thicken sauces without having to cook them endlessly… a few minutes and presto you have a delicious thick sauce.  Better yet it cuts down on propane use.

On Watch Shitake Wraps

makes 3 wraps

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • 1 T garlic jelly
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1 T fresh ginger grated
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • t veg oil
  • ⅓ lb shitake mushrooms
  • 1 T corn starch
  • salami (if desired)
  • slice of swiss cheese (I used individually wrapped cheese for this)
  • sprouts
  • tomato sliced into wedges

DSCN8537 1024x768 Windlass Shitake Wraps

Directions:

  • Mix the sauce and marinate the mushrooms in it for 5-10 minutes
  • Fry the mushrooms in the sauce mixing in cornstarch until thickened
  • Place one slice of cheese on tortilla
  • Spoon mushrooms over followed by tomatoes
  • Finish with sprouts, wrap, relax, and enjoy!

 

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