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Onboard Improvisation Ideas

by Bill Shaw

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

Grilled Halibut with Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Olive Oil

Serves 4

  • Four 5- to 6-ounce halibut filets, block cut (cut into a block that is a least 1” thick)
  • ¼ cup pure olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, ground
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, in oil, finely diced
  • 1 Tablespoon basil, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

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
Ling Cod with Sour Cream Dill Sauce

I love crusting fish with all sorts of fun ingredients hanging out in the pantry, but it wasn’t until my friend Russ told me about his potato chip and egg omelet story that I saw the potential of chips. Russ was making breakfast for a small group of friends that turned into a larger group quickly, with only a dozen eggs and 12 hungry mouths to feed, and he was panicking to find a quick way to double the size of his egg dish. As he scrambled through his limited ingredients, he discovered a family-sized bag of potato chips and without any hesitation, the bag of chips soon found their way into a large skillet of scrambled eggs. The meager amount of eggs had now doubled in size as he proudly scraped every last crumb from the skillet onto a giant-sized serving platter. Russ grinned as the breakfast crowd filled their paper plates with his potato chip scramble. To his surprise, the uninvited guests began raving about his eggs and begged him to share his recipe. `
Makes 6 Servings

  • ¾ cup salt and vinegar potato chips, crushed (any crispy chip or cracker)
  • 2 eggs yolks, whisked to a froth
  • Four 5- to 6-ounce, ling cod filets
    (any fresh fish)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • ½ cup sour cream (or yogurt)
  • ½ cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
    (no pantry should be without it)
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced ¼ inch (olives, red pepper, shallots)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 fresh dill sprigs as garnish

Directions: Place salt and vinegar chips in a sealed bag and crush the chips to cornflake-sized pieces. Using a paper towel, pat dry each filet, then dip the filet in egg, covering all sides. Dip the egg-coated filets in the crushed chips until well coated. Set aside. In a medium bowl, add sour cream, mayonnaise, red onion, chopped dill, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil. Pan-sear potato chip-crusted filet until golden brown on both sides. Rest filets on a baking sheet. Top each filet with ¼ cup of the sour cream dill sauce and spread evenly across the filet, leaving some exposed chips. Place in a 350˚ F oven until the sour cream mixture begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately and garnish with lemon and fresh dill.

Chef’s Note:Potato chips are an amazing breading, not only because they taste great, but they stay crispy and crunchy. I used salt and vinegar, but use any chip you like. Other breadings that you might try are cereals (Chex corn or rice is really good), Betty Crocker potato buds, Cream of Wheat cereal, Chicken and Biscuit crackers, Cheez-It crackers (too good), saltines, and more.

Salt & Vinegar Potato Chip-Crusted
Ling Cod with Sour Cream Dill Sauce
Kanaka Joe’s Island Rockfish

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.

Serves 6

  • Six 5- or 6-ounce rockfish filets, pin bones removed with a V-cut
  • 1 jar Kona Coast pineapple teriyaki sauce (any sweet and salty sauce – e.g. Durkee’s Red Hot)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (nuts of any kind)
  • 3 each green onion, sliced ¼ inch

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.

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