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
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. 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.
This 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
- 1 recipe unagi sauce
- 2 unagi steaks
- Short grained rice
- 1 c Japanese green tea
- Wasabi paste
- Green onions, finely sliced
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
- Spoon rice into bowl
- Place strips of unagi on top
- Spoon unagi sauce
- Spoon rice into bowl
- Place strips of unagi over rice
- Sprinkle green onions on top
- Squeeze wasabi onto the creation
- Drizzle unagi sauce around
- 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…