Onboard Improvisation Ideas
Last month, Roche Harbor was honored to host the Puget Sound Grand Banks Owners Association annual rendezvous. Among the many activities planned was a cooking demonstration featuring yours truly. This year’s demonstration focused on entertaining aboard with great-tasting, simple appetizers. After sharing recipes, stories, drinking wine, and eating too many appetizers, the discussion moved to, “What can I do if I don’t have all the ingredients?”
The short answer I gave is to just keep going. If you’re anchored out, one or two missing ingredients may change the recipe, but it won’t ruin your party. This got me thinking of the countless times when I have decided to make a few appetizers, then opened the kitchen refrigerator and realized that I am missing half the ingredients. Don’t let this stop you! Some of my favorite recipes have been created after midnight, with a boat full of friends and an empty galley. All of us have followed a few hundred recipes in our lifetime, and from those experiences we have learned some basic formulas of what we like. A good dish is a contrast of sour vs. sweet, crunchy vs. creamy, and bold vs. beautiful. Have fun with it and if it doesn’t turn out, toss it overboard and pour another glass of wine.
This month’s recipes were created in less than 40 minutes and without a shopping list. They can be made with a handful of impromptu substitutions. I will give a few examples of ingredients that can be swapped back and forth, but the real test will come late one night, when motivated by hunger and the dim light of the refrigerator bulb, you get creative and your culinary accomplishment makes you feel like an overstuffed burrito. Have fun and share your late-night inspired creation with your friends.
Grilled Halibut with Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Olive Oil
Directions: Pre-heat your grill to medium-high or about 400˚F. Season the fish filets with olive oil, salt, black pepper and any other spices you like. In a small skillet on medium heat, add extra virgin olive oil and peeled garlic cloves. Cook garlic slowly until it is tender, about 12 minutes. Cooking the garlic at a high temperature will brown the garlic and make it bitter. Pour the softened garlic into a bowl and allow it to cool, then add sun dried tomatoes, basil and lemon zest.
When the grill is hot, season it by dipping cotton cloth in oil and rubbing over the grilling surface. Place the seasoned filets on the grill for 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until the filet has an internal temperature of 130˚F using a 220˚ probe-type thermometer.
Remove from the grill immediately and place on four warm plates. Spoon the garlic-olive oil mixture over the top of each filet and serve with a fresh salad dressed with a bold
Chef’s Note: Halibut is a lean fish and has less than 10 percent fat, which means it will cook quickly. Don’t dry it out by leaving it on the grill too long.
Salt & Vinegar Potato Chip-Crusted
Kanaka Joe’s Island Rockfish
Roasted or grilled vegetables are my favorite style of cooking vegetables, and whether it is a combination of root vegetables and beets or baby squashes and onions, they are always impressive. The trick to making these vegetables taste even more amazing than they look is to allow your oven or grill to do the work while the cook remains patient but attentive. Allow the vegetables to brown and char, then turn over and brown and char again. The crunchy, burnt edges of the peppers are my favorite and can be eaten cold on a bruschetta.
Directions: Rockfish is a smaller fish that is sold in 6- to 7-ounce filets and 3 to 5-ounce filets. The pin bones can often be removed when the rockfish is fileted by cutting them out of the filet with a V-shaped cut. Inspect the filets and remove any unwanted tissue, skin, and missed bones. Rinse the filets in cold water and pat dry with a paper cloth.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine fish with ¾ cup of the pineapple teriyaki sauce and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or pie tin. Pre-heat oven to 350˚F.
After the filets have marinated for 1 hour, remove from marinade and dredge each filet into the seasoned flour mixture, coating all sides. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil. When hot, gently add breaded filets to oil. When filet is golden brown, about 2 minutes, turn over and repeat.
Top each filet with the remaining pineapple teriyaki sauce, then place in oven for 15 minutes with sauce beginning to caramelize around fish. Remove from oven and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.
Chef’s Note:Don’t be concerned about undercooking the filets since they are going into the oven for the final step. Place browned filets in a shallow baking dish.