A flight of something thwacked into our path as we were dinghying across the Bahamian waters.
“What do you think that was?” the captain asked me.
“Flying fish,” I replied. What else could it be?
“Calamari!” the captain replied, grinning and holding up a small squid.
I had never even heard of flying squid before a sail around the Bahamas several years prior, or since. Until the passage from Panama, that is. The first day after we passed the Galapagos flying fish started appearing on our trampoline. Gifts from the sea gods, of course. The first day there were a few flying fish and one little squid.
Cook them for breakfast, Sato San urged. The flying fish were alright, but the squid was scrumptious.
“There’ll be 10 squid this morning,” I said to Toshi San on watch that night. I didn’t really believe it, but to my delight there was a flock of flying squid on the trampoline as the sun came up. Not quite 10, but enough for a tasty snack.
That morning for breakfast I served them as a side dish to our usual rice breakfast. They were delectable, perfectly done. And what a wonderful addition of fresh food to the provisions! Unlike catching monstrous tuna or mahi mahi you aren’t eating it for weeks either.
We didn’t have as many flying squid gifts on the trampoline, but they really are delicious. I highly recommend frying them up if you find them on your deck or trampoline on passage. You do have to take out the little plastic-y tube
Falling off Flying Squid
- ½ lb squid, about 10
- 2 T soy
- 1 T cooking sake
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T butter
- Clean the squid, they always have a little plastic-y tube inside but they are usually small enough not to have a beak or anything else that needs removal. Place in small bowl
- Sprinkle cooking sake over squid (it removes any possible odor)
- In small frying pan heat butter over medium heat
- Fry garlic 1-2 minutes
- Add soy
- Cook squid 30 seconds on each side, they will plump up a little bit and translucent flesh will turn opaque
- Put over rice
If you’re going to keep the squid until lunch you might want to refrigerate it.
Sailing is fantastic. More than just the exhilarating, relaxing, challenging time on the water, I adore nature, snorkeling, and exploring new places. But what makes places is the people and the unique traditions.
From the start of our stay Kuna Indians rowed dugout canoes out to Umineko hawking bracelets, and the traditional mola weavings they were famed for. Several plump Kuna women made their rounds to the yachts, delighted to have so many potential customers.
molas were expensive, but the craftsmanship and time that went into making them was impressive. The figures stitched onto the colorful weavings looked similar to aboriginal art from Australia. Each one was unique, the fabric layers painstakingly hand-stitched as they had been for hundreds of years. When one mola-master demonstrated the intricacy, each stich so fine it was almost invisible to the naked eye I realized how exceptional these traditional weavings truly were.
Every day new canoes rowed up to us. One man came with his son in a dugout canoe. The short We invited the two on board to chat. Each canoe was made from a single “cedar amargo” tree. Everything was still made traditionally with machetes and axes. One canoe could last decades, but today not everyone made their own. Special canoe-makers made canoes.
With no markets on Chichime, or any of the surrounding islands we were running low on vegetables. The isolation was as bad as being on a long passage. We were starting to wonder if we would have to sail somewhere that had a grocery store. That morning we were delighted to have a canoe pull up beside us selling that day’s catch of fish and lobster.
We were a little disappointed that they didn’t have veggies but how could we pass on a fish delivery service? For $10 we bought the whole lot. We didn’t have a lot of fresh veggies, but with the delicious variety of seafood I just had to make paella. Isn’t half of cooking in a galley about making delicious things with what you have?
- 2 ½ c water
- 2 T vegeta
- 1 ½ c long-grain rice
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- ½ c white wine
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 generous pinch saffron (alas our saffron was too old so the paella wasn’t yellow)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ½ c shrimp
- 1 c squid
- 4 small lobster tails
- 2 T lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
- In large skillet sauté garlic and onion in olive oil about 2 minutes on medium heat
- Add rice, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and vegeta and stir until rice is fully coated
- Add water, white wine, and saffron, cover pan with lid and simmer 20 minutes
- Add lobster and simmer another 5 minutes
- Add shrimp and squid and cook 2 minutes more
- Sprinkle lemon juice over paella
If anything can keep you alert through the wee hours of morning when you’re on watch it’s a shot of wasabi. And how better than to get wasabi into a scrumptious and easy spread than to mix it with cream cheese? It gives a sandwich, crackers, or whatever you put it on, a whole new dimension. And for those of you not as excited about spicy food, the cream cheese tones down the bite of the wasabi.
Wasabi and cream cheese might not be the first combination that comes to mind. Oh sure, there’s wasabi mayonnaise, some sushi uses cream cheese, you put wasabi on the sushi, but wasabi cream cheese? The first time I tried horseradish cream cheese was at Russ and Daughters bagel shop in New York, my all-time favorite deli. Their masterful creation the “Super Heebster” has wasabi roe, horseradish cream cheese, and not one but two tasty fish spreads. From the second I bit into their bagel I was hooked. Now I can’t recreate wasabi roe. I think you have to force feed fish a steady diet of wasabi for that to happen. So I may not be able to have Russ and Daughters anywhere in the world, but I’ve found a pretty tasty alternative. Here is my nautical take on the “Super Heebster.”
On Watch Wasabi Bagels
- 8 oz lox
- 4 bagels
- Wasabi cream cheese spread
Wasabi cream cheese spread
- 2 T wasabi (if you aren’t a fan of spicy then you can just use 1 T of Wasabi)
- ½ c cream cheese
- ½ red onion finely chopped
Mix the wasabi, cream cheese, and red onion together and voila! Brilliance. It is better the second day.
Hauling out is an endeavor even when it’s just routine, but when it’s chilly outside and you really have to stay on your unheated boat hotpots are the only answer.
Umineko rested high above the Brewerton Boatyard. Her engine needed some work before the sea cat returned to her salty home.
Brisk would be an understatement for the chill air. Our breath billowed out in clouds of steam, not a terribly fun thing when you are on a boat “built to sail in warmer climates” (translation: no heater on board). And as the sun sank the temperature dropped.
“Hotpot” Sato San suggested. I was all for it.
Hot pots, or nabe, are normal “student” food in Japan. It’s easy to make, filling, and healthy. I didn’t believe Tanaka San, our crew-mate when he told me it was easy, it looked so complicated and involved but the more hot pots I make the easier it gets. I suppose everything is easy once you know how to do it. Hot pots are marvelous for but warming the stomach on a cold night.
This is a Kombu hot pot, with kombu soup stock, seaweed soup stock, as the star of the show.
- Portable burner*
- Large, deep skillet
- Ladle with holes
- 2 T sake
- 2 T kombu soup stock
- 1 t katsuo dashi (bonito fish powder)
- 6 c water
- 7 pepper seasoning
- Chinese Cabbage chopped into 3-4’ segments
- 3 Leeks chopped into 3-4’ segments
- 1 bunch Green onion (chopped into 3-4’ segments)
- Whatever other vegetables you have on hand
- 4 uncooked mochi squares
- ½ c Sliced squid
- ½ c Imitation crab
- ½ c Scallops
- ¼ c finely chopped scallions for garnish
- 2-3 packages of ramen noodles
- Place mochi squares and ½ of chopped vegetables in large deep skillet or pan, setting aside ½ of chopped veggies in a bowl on the table
- Pour in water, until vegetables covered
- Add kombu and katsuo dashi, and sake simmer (covered) 5 minutes.
- Add imitation crab, and scallops and simmer 2 minutes
- Add squid
- Ladle out 2 cups of broth into bowl and set aside
- Transfer to portable burner in the middle of table and turn to low flame.
- Every person at the table puts 1-2 T kombu soup stock, and/or ponzu, and 7 chili seasoning in his or her bowl (to taste)
- Ladle hot pot “soup” into bowls.
- Sprinkle scallions over bowls
- Enjoy, continuing to add ingredients to your bowl until skillet is almost emptied of ingredients and just delicious soup stock is left
- Add remainder of vegetables and allow to simmer for 5-8 minutes
- Continue eating until veggies are almost gone. By this time the broth has become unbelievably flavorful.
- Add remainder of stock set aside before round 1
- Bring to a boil
- Add ramen
- Allow to cook for 3 minutes
- Serve final broth and ramen
I rarely make it as far as round 3, filling up on all of the veggies and seafood is usually enough for me.
Alternately you can save the broth for breakfast or lunch the next day with rice or noodles.
*If you do not have a portable burner on your boat I highly recommend getting one. It is a great back-up in case your propane runs out in the middle of cooking dinner. This way you can continue cooking dinner without having to change the propane tank first. It is also great to take to the beach etc.
Cleveland’s West Side Market could bring a foodie to her knees. With everything from freshly made squid ink pasta to fish so fresh it was practically still breathing and every pastry you could possibly imagine. They had to tear me away as we were setting sail that afternoon.
The next day Sato San revealed a surprise he had bought. 1 lb of the most beautiful ahi tuna imaginable –ruby red and gorgeous. We had to eat it within the next few days when it was at its best. Just sashimi over rice, he recommended. He would teach me how to make the sauce.
“It’s easy,” he assured me.
I knew what that meant. I’m still trying to learn how to cut vegetables right, something that seems to be an innate skill for Japanese people (or at least sailors). What level of “easy” would making sashimi be?
Amazingly Sato San gave me a few simple instructions. A few hours later we had tuna sashimi so good I couldn’t believe I had actually made it. He was right sashimi is simplicity itself. Like all Japanese “cooking” the key is balance. You don’t want one flavor to overpower all of the others.
- 1 lb ahi tuna
- 3 T mirin
- 3 T soy sauce
- ¼ c minced red onion
- ¼ c finely sliced spring onion
- Cut ahi tuna into bite-sized squares (about ½” thick)
- Put into small bowl
- In soup bowl mix 3 T mirin, 3 T soy sauce, ¼ c minced red onion, and ¼ c spring onion
- Pour sauce over ahi tuna
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-12 hours
- Serve over bed of white rice.