professional chef recipes

Sea Fare — Victoria Allman in the Galley

 

Bimini Bread by Victoria Allman

Bimini Bread by Victoria Allman

Bimini Breakdown


by Victoria Allman


We were only going to be in Bimini for two days. There was no time to waste.  I wanted Bimini Bread.

Trouble was, we were anchored two miles off the east coast of the island and the tender was broken.  Harry, our engineer was busy trying to fix it.  But by the descriptive words coming out of his mouth, I held little hope it would be functioning in time to get me to the craft market and to Natalie’s stall before it closed.

Patrick came into our cabin as I stuffed a few loose bills in the pocket of my swim shorts.

“What are you doing?”  Patrick and I’d been married long enough for him to know I was going to take matters into my own hands.

“Taking the paddle board to shore.”  I handed him my bottle of sunscreen and turned so he could apply it to my back.

I could hear him rolling his eyes in his tone of voice.  “That’s over two miles away.

“I know.”

“The wind is still blowing.” 

We had rocked at anchor the night before through thirty-mile per hour gusts.  It had calmed by morning, but there was still a residual breeze and slight chop to the water.

“I know.”

“It will take you over an hour to get there.”

“I know.”

He heavy-sighed.  “I’ll get my trunks on.”

I turned and kissed him.  He put up a fight, but he liked an adventure as much as I did.

The hot sun set my sun-screened skin to glistening with sweat within moments of pushing off from the boat.  My muscles screamed in joy at being able to move again after two days at sea in rough conditions.  My paddle swished rhythmically and pulled me through the varying peacock, sapphire and royal colors of the water surrounding me.

It didn’t take long for Patrick to pass me and be half way to shore.  I spent most of the time shifting my gaze from the white sand beach of our destination to the clear waters below.  I glided over sea fans and rock formations that looked close enough to touch, although I knew they lay thirty-feet below

A barracuda stalks Victoria Allman

A barracuda stalks Victoria Allman

.

A flash of silver and white caught my eye and the board beneath my feet wobbled.  A four-foot barracuda hung suspended in teal just behind the back of my board.  I recovered from being startled and paddled closer to shore.  A dozen strokes later, I turned to see him following me.  Another dozen strokes and he was still there; a stalker at sea.

Ahead and to the left, lime green reflected in the sunlight.  I paddled closer.  Somewhere between the sandy ocean floor and me a sea turtle glided through the blue.  I stopped mid-stroke so as not to scare him.  Within seconds, he shot out of sight, startled by the shadow of a large predator hovering above.

In the distance, the flipper of a sunfish fluttered at the surface before it, too, darted off.

By the time I caught up with Patrick on the beach, I was hot and thirsty.  We stashed our boards under a wind-blown casuarina tree and headed up the road to the craft market.

I had been reading about Natalie’s Bimini bread for days.  Now in her late seventies, Natalie had been baking bread for the island for the past fifty years.  She was famous for it.

We approached the coral-colored hut and were greeted with the friendly smile of the islands.

“Welcome to Bimini.”  Carmen, Natalie’s daughter greeted us.  Her close-cropped hair, dark-rimmed glasses and polyester skirt made her look like more of a business woman than an island girl.

“We’ve come for some Bimini bread,” I said.

“They all do, child.”  She held up a loaf wrapped in plastic.  ”This here is the original.”  She arranged the remaining loaves in the bin.  “Mama’s been baking since dawn.”

I held out the soggy bills from my pocket and turned back to Patrick who was busy procuring two bottles of water from a cooler full of ice on the ground.  I held out the plastic bag and beamed.

“How are you going to get it back to the boat?”  Patrick is always the practical one.

My smile faded, but only for a moment.  “I guess we will just have to eat it here.”

“A whole loaf?”

I shrugged.  “There are worse things.” 

We wound our way back to the boards and sat under the dappled shade of the tree.  I ripped off a hunk of the bread and handed it to Patrick.  Crumbs fell onto my lap and stuck to my greasy skin.  The next chunk was for me.  I devoured the sweet, soft bread of the island in minutes and washed it down with the ice-cold water.  It didn’t take us long to make the loaf disappear.

With bellies full of bread, we slipped the boards into the lapping surf.  As I checked over my shoulder to see if I was still being followed, I hoped Harry would have the tender running by the time we returned.  I didn’t want a breakdown to stop me from bringing Bimini bread back to the boat.

—————

Bimini Bread


1 package active dry yeast

1 cup slightly warm coconut milk
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour (plus extra, if the dough comes out too wet)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hot water

1 stick soft butter
3 tablespoons honey

Heat the coconut milk in a microwave for 10 seconds until barely warm. 

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine coconut milk with yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients through eggs and mix on medium for 6 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

Divide the dough in half and roll into 2 greased loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix the honey and hot water and brush on top of loaves.

Bake at 300 for 30 minutes.

Mix together soft butter and honey until smooth.

Cool loaves slightly and serve warm with soft honey butter.

Makes 2 loaves

—————

Victoria Allman, author SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain, has been following her stomach around the globe for twelve years as a yacht chef. She writes about her floating culinary odyssey through Europe, the Caribbean, Nepal, Vietnam, Africa and the South Pacific in her first book, Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.

SEAsoned…, Victoria’s second book is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain; trying to stay afloat.

You can read more of her food-driven escapades through her web-site, www.victoriaallman.com

Narrative and recipe Copyright © 2011 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, Passagemaking News

Sea Fare: Victoria Allman in the Galley – Spring 2011

Tribal Bartering

By Victoria Allman

“Are they still there?” I asked Patrick as he walked through the galley.

“They haven’t left.” Patrick grabbed a slice of pineapple from the platter in front of me. “We’re surrounded.”

I swatted his hand as he reached for another slice. The fruit tray was for the guests on Pangaea, the 185-foot yacht I was chef of, not for the crew, whether he was my husband or not.

I removed my apron and followed Patrick down the side passageway to our aft deck.  The equatorial sun of Papua New Guinea burned deep into my skin within seconds of leaving the cool air-conditioned environ of my galley. I raised my hand to shade my eyes and squinted out over the tea-colored water.

Patrick was right; we were surrounded. Trailing behind us were half a dozen hand-carved wooden canoes, each holding a dozen tribal men and women.  To our starboard side, another four canoes were packed with dark-skinned naked children. Half of them smiled wide, half crouched behind the gunwale, the whites of their eyes peaking over the rim, too scared to look, too intrigued to glance away.

We were a novelty. A boat our size had never traveled that far up the Sepik River before. We had anchored the night before in the center of the river, unable to navigate farther in the dark. The guest on board had requested a trip up the Sepik, also known as the Amazon of the Pacific, to the center of the country along some of the wildest and remotest terrain on earth to view spirit-houses and tour primitive villages. So far, our journey had twisted through steamy mangrove jungles, untouched dense rainforests and boggy swamps.

The guests were on a National Geographic-like expedition, only, it was being done in the luxury of a twenty million dollar yacht.

Sweat trickled between my breasts before I even reached the swim platform. A mosquito landed on my arm. I swatted it away with one hand while with the other I motioned to one of the canoes to come closer.

A man wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and an elaborate headdress of feathers and vines maneuvered his prow alongside the swim platform of Pangaea. Patrick reached down to steady the dugout vessel.

“Welcome.” The man’s rough smile showed betel nut-stained misshapen teeth. He spit velvet red juice into the muddy-brown water. It swirled a moment and disappeared in the fast-moving current. “We sell bananas and coconut.”

I smiled. The local market had come to me. “How much?”

I had been to Madang, the local town earlier that week and had a rough grasp of how the Kina worked. In such a poor country, five kina bought you almost anything. I had spent more money than the market-sellers had seen in a long time on sweet potatoes, water spinach and papaya to feed our twelve crew and twelve guests.

I pulled coins from my pocket and pointed to the branch of bananas on the rough-hewn floor. I held out my hand, but the man shook his head. The animal bone piercing his nose swung back and forth.

“No good here.” He waved his hand toward the river banks lined with clusters of wheat and wild sugarcane. The village we anchored in front of consisted of stilted one-room huts made of wood and thatch. Jungle forests stretched forever beyond the clearing. Of course, where would he spend the money? On what?

Patrick stepped in. “Batteries?” he asked.

The man nodded. Our local guide on board came down to translate.

Patrick disappeared into the engine room to grab some of our spares while I stood smiling at a two-year old, curly-headed girl draped in a dirty white cloth for a diaper. I wiggled my fingers in a wave that sent her burying her face between her mother’s bare breasts.

I looked from one woman to the next. Each was bare-chested with long, flat, shriveled breasts that hung low and uneven down their bellies. Some wore skirts of grass, some a cloth wrapped around their hips. I felt self-conscious in my white polo with the yacht’s logo stitched on the chest.

Patrick returned with a box of batteries and a plastic container. The man nodded and handed me the branch with dozens of green bananas attached. 

Patrick bent down beside the children in the center of the canoe and held out his hand. One child shrieked and huddled in the far corner, but a boy of about six years tentatively peeked into Patrick’s cupped hand. He reached out a scrawny arm and touched what was inside. He, too, shrieked. But, this one was out of excitement.  The other six children pushed and leaned in to get a view of what the strange white man with hair the color of the surrounding wheat fields had in his hand.

The first boy grabbed at what Patrick held and snuggled it to his chest. Finally, I could see what the excitement was all about. Patrick had brought a container of ice from our ice machine. The children pawed at the ice in the boy’s arms, but within seconds, it had disappeared. All heads turned back to Patrick, wide eyes pleading for more.

Patrick laughed and handed out cubes to all the children. The men from other canoes paddled close to see what the excitement was all about. One by one, each canoe approached the boat and as I traded batteries, an old frying pan and crew t-shirts for tropical fruits from the fields, Patrick entertained the children with the ice.

Within minutes, all the crew and guests had come to trade. Extra clothes were exchanged for carved masks, flashlights for weaved baskets. As the rudimentary bartering progressed, Patrick produced the exchange item of greatest value.

He and our engineer, Scotty, lowered the jet-skis into the water. One-by one, Patrick took each boy for a ride. They straddled the seat behind him; smiling and waving as they passed their village, showing off to those on shore waiting their turn. He taught them to drive our machines in exchange for them teaching a thirty-nine year old man how to balance in their round bottomed vessels.

“Stand in back. Just paddle.” One boy instructed. Patrick rose, balancing like he learned on his surfboard as the hollow tree trunk swayed beneath him.  He teetered right and corrected too quickly to the left.

Splash! He emerged from the muddy water laughing. Children and elders roared with laughter around us. To their immense pleasure, he ended up in the water many times, tipping out of the canoe before he mastered its balance. 

By mid-morning, when we had to pull anchor and continue our voyage up the river, we had emptied our reserves of essentials and loaded in their place a bounty of carvings and fruits.

“You’ve been taken advantage of.”  Our guide shook his head. “Two batteries for something that grows free on trees.”

I disagreed. For me, it was the other way around; two little batteries for the chance of creating our own market aboard.  The smile on the woman’s face when I handed over a pot for boiling water and the memory of children’s laughter at my husband’s ineptitude at mastering the canoe was well worth any amount of trade. I was definitely getting the better end of the deal.

We set off for our next destination leaving a trail of canoes and laughter in our wake and navigated toward our next stop for more tribal bartering.

———-

 

Fruit Salad with Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Fruit Salad with Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Tropical Fruit Salad

with a Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce 

Tropical Fruit Salad of:

 

  •  Pineapples
  •  Mangoes
  •   Papaya
  •   Bananas
  •   Grapefruit
  •   Oranges

 Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce:

 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut rum
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeded

 

In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, cook the sugar and juice of the orange over moderately high heat until it turns a deep caramel color. It will darken quickly so watch closely, once it starts to color be ready to add the rum or the sugar will burn. At this point, the sugar is extremely hot. DO NOT TOUCH.  Remove from the heat and pour in the rum. The caramel will “spit” so stand back and be careful. Add coconut milk and vanilla pod and seeds and return to the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes until the caramel is dissolved.

Cool and serve with fruit salad.

Serves 8

———-

Victoria Allman, author SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain, has been following her stomach around the globe for twelve years as a yacht chef.  She writes about her floating culinary odyssey through Europe, the Caribbean, Nepal, Vietnam, Africa and the South Pacific in her first book, Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.

SEAsoned, Victoria’s second book is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain; trying to stay afloat.

You can read more of her food-driven escapades through her web-site, www.victoriaallman.com

Narrative and recipe Copyright © 2011 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, megayachts, Passagemaking News, People

Sea Fare Winter 2010-2011 — Victoria Allman in the Galley

—Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the ninth in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the destinations and context in which her recipes were developed.  Last month, she was in the South Pacific and her friend Nunu supplied her with the freshest possible Mahi-Mahi.  If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the right sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

The Memory of Jerk
by Victoria Allman

I’ve been stuck in port for too long now. The yacht I work on is for sale and we have been in Lauderdale for the annual boat show. It is a time of sitting and staying in one place; a time when my mind wanders back to earlier travels.

Today, I’ve been thinking about Jamaica; a place of carnal color and debaucherous tales. But, my favorite memories are not so much of climbing the waterfalls at Dunn’s River, jumping off the cliff 45-feet above the Caribbean Sea at Rick’s, or reverberating to the sounds of reggae. My favorite memory is of what came after a trail ride through the ganja fields on a horse called Smoke. Now, before you jump to any conclusions about what that memory may entail, or how hazy it might be, let me tell you about the jerk chicken I had.

Hot and sweaty from the ride, I tied Smoke under the shade of a logwood tree. Not twenty-feet away, a caravan had parked on the side of the road. The sharp smell of chilies from a steel barrel barbecue beside the truck had lured me off the trail and set my mouth to watering.

“You ever had jerk?” A scrawny Jamaican man in long jean shorts and a white tank top held steel tongs in his hand. His brown eyes never left the searing meat on the grill in front of him.

“Not here.” I said. My eyes could barely leave the scene either.

“Den you never had jerk.” He drawled. “Dis where it comes from.” His smile revealed two gold front teeth. He lifted a chicken leg from the grill and bent low to inspect the underside. His beehive of dreadlocks grazed low over the flames, threatening to ignite. “Dis one’s for you.” He wrapped the leg in paper and handed me a Red Stripe.

I sat at a worn and splintered wooden picnic table. The hot sun seared my skin as much as the flames had done the chicken. I took a long pull of the beer before picking up the meal. It was a good thing I did. Once I brought the leg to my mouth, I couldn’t put it down. The flavor exploded in my mouth. Sweetness and spice battled for dominance. Steam rose off the flesh as I tore into it. My tongue burned. Neither the heat nor the spice stopped me from devouring the whole thing in minutes.

The man at he grill glanced over and laughed. “Another one?”

I nodded vigorously.

He began wrapping another piece. “Nobody ever has just one.”

It was that taste I thought of today while planning the menu for lunch. I may not be able to travel while the boat is in Lauderdale, but I sure was going to try and replicate that experience again.

———-

 
 
 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken by Victoria Allman - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Jamaican Jerk Chicken by Victoria Allman - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • ½ scotch bonnet, minced ***depending on heat tolerance
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ whole nutmeg, grated
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 12 chicken thighs
  •  2 limes, juiced
  1. In a food processor, combine the rum, cider vinegar, green onions, garlic, thyme, scotch bonnet, canola oil, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, pepper, brown sugar and ketchup; process to a coarse paste. Pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish, add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before proceeding. 
  2. Light a grill. Grill the chicken over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, 20-30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and drizzle with lime juice.

Serve with Rice and Peas, Vegetable Salad and Rotis.

Serves 6

Narrative and Recipe Copyright © by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations

Sea Fare Autumn 2010 — Victoria Allman in the Galley

Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the ninth in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the destinations and context in which her recipes were developed. Last month, we joined her in the raucous good eats of the Hong Kong dim sum restaurant and Victoria’s take on Har Gow.  In this  installment, she is in the South Pacific and her friend Nunu supplies her with the freshest possible Mahi-Mahi.  If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the right sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

Cruising in the South Pacific

Cruising in the South Pacific

The South Pacific Dream

“Iorana, Victoria.  Mahi today?” Nunu, a dark Tahitian man with tribal tattoos of tikis, turtles, and rays wrapped around his bicep and stretched down his muscular calves, dropped a blunt-nosed fish on the back deck.  The iridescent greens and blues still flashed on its silver skin indicating it had just been caught.

“Thanks, Nunu.  Will you stay for lunch?” Nunu had been bringing me mahi each time we anchored in the lagoon of Maupiti. With guests on board, I rarely had time for more than a quick hello and to ask about his family, but today it was just the crew.

His face lit up like our navigational spotlights.  “Me? On here?”  He looked up at the towering levels of teak decks and polished stainless rails.  Pangaeawas quite different from the fishing boats he was used to seeing come through the pass in Maupiti.

Maupiti, the smallest and most isolated of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, is a minuscule version of Bora Bora, with a sharp ridgeline summit that dominates the middle of the tiny island.  The calm sapphire water of the lagoon and sleepy swaying palm trees of the surrounding motus are what South Pacific dreams are made of.

 But we had to fight for that peaceful feeling of paradise inside the lagoon.  A storm had hit the area earlier that morning, creating rough waters. 

Most French Polynesian islands are ringed by submerged reefs, part of their volcanic evolution, having erupted from the ocean floor and cooled to create fertile mountain islands. Breaks in these reefs allow boats to enter and exit the lagoons.  Many are wide enough to pass through without incident, but some, like Maupiti, are narrow and dangerous.  The tides rush out daily, carrying extreme volumes of water through the small gap and create a monstrous standing wave with enough force to push even large boats like Pangaea up onto the reef.  On top of that, a south swell from the storm ran against the outgoing tide, creating another challenge to get through. 

Michael, our captain, and Patrick, the first mate, surveyed the scene with binoculars, checking for wave breaks and currents before deciding to enter the lagoon.  This was not a place to be shipwrecked

“Come to starboard to line up the range,” Patrick called to Michael.  He read the water for the slightest change that would send Pangaea off course.  Churning white water lay before us, paving the way.

“How far to the reef on starboard?” Michael asked, without taking his eyes off the bow of the boat. Without rearview mirrors, he relied solely on distances called to him by Patrick.

“You’ve got a good line. You’ll clear by fifteen feet.”

We entered the pass at eight knots and heeled to the right.  I ran down stairs to the galley and lunged for the bowl of noodles I was preparing as it began to slide off the counter.  But just as quickly, we righted and sharply turned to port.  I slammed against the counter. The movement of the boat settled down.  I went to the aft deck to look at the cut we had just passed through. 

The thunderous waves roared high.  Water rushed through the break with the speed of white water rapids.

But inside the lagoon we were sheltered. The water was blue and sparkling, like a mermaid’s bath.  I stood baking in the menacingly bright sun. While lost in a daydream, a sleek yellow and white fishing boat with Tahitian designs stenciled on the side approached.  I smiled and waved.

Nunu pulled up alongside the back of Pangaeaand threw me the line to tie off. His boat was specially designed to drive from the bow with one hand while holding a spear with the other.  He was a professional, adept at catching fish as they raced the same waves we had just sailed through.  One of Nunu’s victories lay in the bottom of the boat.  My smile widened.  Forget the noodles, we were having mahi for lunch that day.

“Iorana, Nunu.”

 Nunu followed me to the galley, his eyes wide with wonder.  He laid the mahi on the counter like a delicate flower and picked up my filleting knife.  He tested the sharpness by running the blade across his thumb.  With a nod of approval, he inserted it behind the fish’s gill and ran it down the backbone in one fluid movement.  He flipped the large and cumbersome fish over like it was no more than a paperback and repeated the procedure.  Nunu lifted the flesh from the backbone leaving a bare skeleton as if it had picked clean by vultures.  He peeled the skin from the fillet and with the speed of a samurai warrior he sliced his catch into sixteen equal portions. 

Now it was my turn to have wide eyes.  “Nunu, you’re a star.  I’ve never seen a fish butchered so quickly.”  It would have taken me half an hour to perform that task and it wouldn’t have looked anywhere near as perfect. “Or so cleanly.” The portions were smooth and exact. 

Nunu winked.  “I do this everyday. Fish is the only food on the island.” 

I looked out the window at the beauty surrounding us.  I could get used to this.  Sunshine, blue water, and a diet of mahi everyday.  Maupiti was quickly becoming my South Pacific dream.

———-

Mahi-Mahi Corn Chowder by Victoria Allman

Mahi-Mahi Corn Chowder by Victoria Allman

Mahi-Mahi Corn Chowder

  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup potatoes, diced
  • ½ serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 12 grinds black pepper
  • 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 pounds mahi-mahi, sliced into 1” squares
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced

 

Chop all the vegetables no bigger than a kernel of corn.  Slice bacon to similar size.  Sauté bacon in a heavy-bottomed soup pot, over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes until crisp and golden.  Add onion and garlic and sauté another 3 minutes until soft.  Add celery and sauté 2 minutes.  Add red pepper and sauté 2 minutes more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add thyme, chicken stock, potatoes, serrano pepper, sea salt and black pepper.  Bring back to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add coconut milk and fresh corn from the cob.  Simmer 5 more minutes. Slice mahi-mahi into 1” squares and add to the pot.  Simmer 5 minutes until fish is cooked through. Add chopped cilantro and juice of a lime. 

Taste for seasoning and serve.

Serves 6

Recipe and narrative Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, megayachts, Passagemaking News

Sea Fare August — Victoria Allman in the Galley

Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the eighth in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the destinations and context in which her recipes were developed. Last month, we savored the sweet tradition of Bahamian sweet coconut bread  In this month’s installment, she is in Hong Kong and her friend Vivian exposes her to the culinary chaos and delight of the dim sum house. If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the right sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

While this piece was previously published, we lost it during a move to new servers and so we’re reposting to ensure new readers don’t miss it.

———-

A Lucky Encounter

by Victoria Allman

Maybe it was the rain or the grayness of Vancouver that transported me to another city surrounded by water, not so long ago, just across the ocean.  Physically, we were in sitting down to dim sum in a restaurant in Chinatown engulfed by the clatter of plates and the rumble of the carts rolling past. But, in my mind, I was seated in an identical restaurant in Hong Kong, escaping, not only the rain, but also the chaos of the street.

It was six years earlier and I had been overwhelmed by Hong Kong.  The lights of the city burned neon bright.  The whirl of people passing, rushing to their destination, disoriented me.  My newfound friend Vivian was leading me through her city and was drowning in the confusion. I needed a reprieve. It was a Saturday morning and we ducked into a crowded dim sum restaurant for a meal.

“Har gau, chiu-chao,” a short woman with straight black hair called as she weaved her rickety cart through the labyrinth of tables. The bamboo steamers piled precariously on top jolted forward at an unnatural angle as the cart bumped to a stop against our table leg. The oolong tea in my glass leaped up and over the edge.

Vivian said something in rapid-fire Cantonese and the woman plunked two of the steamers down in front of us.  She grabbed for the paper on the edge of the table and ticked off two boxes before she pushed on, not once breaking a smile.

“This one is pork.”  Vivian used her chopsticks to point at the dumplings nestled on a bed of cabbage. “And, this one is shrimp.”

The pink of the shrimp glowed from within its translucent wrapper.  I worked my chopsticks around the small bundle and prayed it wouldn’t slip from my grip before I had tasted what was inside.  There was a luscious feel on my tongue just before the dumpling slid down my throat like a light slippery noodle.  Startled, and not wanting the sensation to end, I looked back into the steamer.  Empty. Vivian had already eaten the other har gau.

“Just two?” I asked. “Will she be back with more?” I looked around the crowded room hoping to spot the same woman again.

Vivian giggled. “Just wait. There is more to come.” As I tried to grasp the pork bundle in the other steamer, Vivian said, “We will have six, or eight, or maybe nine different things.”

I looked at her, wondering if her strange counting was a mistaken translation to English.  She must have sensed my question and started to explain. “In our culture, lucky numbers are based on Chinese words which sound similar to other Chinese words. All numbers sounding like words with positive connotations are considered auspicious, such as numbers 6, 8 and 9.”  I smiled, liking the idea of having an auspicious meal.  

Another middle-aged woman came by with beef ribs.  Vivian nodded her head and another round steamer was plopped on top of our empty ones along with a plate of steamed Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce.  The smell of ginger emanated from the bamboo.  I sucked the tender five-spice flavored bones as Vivian continued.  “Numbers like 4, 5 and 7 are considered unlucky.” The stem of the broccoli crunched as she bit into it. “Number seven, for example, means spiritual or ghostly.” She reached for another long stalk. “Also, the seventh month of the Chinese calendar is called the ghost month when all the gates of hell are opened for spirits to visit the living.” 

Oh, I didn’t want that.

I counted the plates in front of us, four, and quickly looked around for the next cart. Battered salt and pepper squid appeared, as well as crispy-fried wontons filed with pork and Chinese mushrooms.  I relaxed, knowing we were back to a lucky number of dishes.

“We start with lighter steamed dishes and then move on to fried.” Vivian was a wealth of knowledge.  I was so wrapped up in the history and taste explosions in my mouth that the cacophony going on around me faded.  I was intrigued.

It was that glimpse into her culture that I tried to relate to Patrick back in Vancouver.  I struggled to remember which numbers were the lucky ones. I didn’t want to get it wrong and start our exploration of the Canadian coast on a bad note.  The noisy atmosphere transported me back as I searched my memory for the accurate information. Plates of sticky rice and paper-thin pancakes scattered around our table. The opening of the front door brought a wave of the scent of barbecued duck through the restaurant from the birds hanging in the window. 

I tapped my pointer and middle fingers on the table when a scrawny man in a white dishwashers jacket came by to refill my tea, remembering that was the sign of thanks. I felt like I was back in Hong Kong with Vivian that day. And whether I had five, seven, or nine dishes in front of me, I felt lucky to be eating such delicacies again.

———-

 
 
 
 
 

Dim Sum from Your Own Floating Palace -- Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Dim Sum from Your Own Floating Palace -- Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Har Gow

When I first read this recipe, I thought it was too much work.  But, after the first trial, I realized they were easy, just finicky and definitely worth the time.  I set aside three hours and make enough to freeze for future use.  These are tasty afternoon snacks, hors d’oerves or light lunches.

Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Whisk all together and set aside.

Shrimp Filling:

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and chopped into ¼” dice.
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fatty bacon, minced
  • 3 tablespoons bamboo shoots, rinsed and chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, white part only, diced fine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix together diced bacon, bamboo shoots and green onions and mince finely with a knife until well combined.  Mix into shrimp and set aside.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, white pepper, Shaoxing rice wine, and sesame oil. Mix into the shrimp and marinate for 30 minutes while you mix the dough.

Wheat Starch Dough:

  • 1 cup wheat starch
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup boiled water, cooled for 2 minutes
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil 

Mix wheat starch, tapioca starch and salt.  Pour in half the hot water and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated.  Add the rest of the hot water and work into dough.  Add canola oil as soon as dough begins to come together and knead with your hands for a minute to make a smooth, play-dough like dough. Divide into four equal balls and cover with saran wrap.  Rest for 5 minutes before rolling. 

Slice a ziplock bag down the sides and brush with canola oil.  Roll one of the portions of dough into a 1” log and divide into 8 portions.  Cover with saran wrap.  Take one portion, roll it into a ball and press between the ziplock bag with a flat-bottomed glass to create a 4” thin circle.  Set aside and cover with saran.  Repeat process with all eight small pieces. 

Making the dumplings:

Place one of the rounds in your slightly cupped hand, gently.  Spoon two teaspoons of filling into the center.  Gently close your hand around the filling to seal the edges of the dough in a half moon.  Place in a bamboo steamer basket lined with baking paper.  Repeat with the rest of the circles. Use a little canola oil on your fingertips and gently crimp the edges of each parcel to make a decorative wave pattern.

Place steamer over boiling water.  Cover and steam for six minutes.

Repeat procedure with the next disk of dough while the dumplings are steaming.

Remove finished dumplings and place on a plate to serve with sweet soy dipping sauce. Or, cool and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze for up to one month.  Re-steam for 3 minutes to heat.

Recipe and narrative Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, People

Sea Fare – Victoria Allman in the Galley

Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.” She has graciously agreed to write a periodic column here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed (or adopted as you will see in this first installment). If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in our left sidebar and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

A Culinary Theatre

 by Victoria Allman
www.victoriaallman.com

It was already a late hour by the time we secured the lines and straightened the fenders, but Spain does not even consider eating until long after the sun has retired for the evening.  Famished from a long crossing, we wandered through the old Roman streets of Barcelona dizzy with hunger.  We passed stone buildings with more history than we could remember, to a tiny square where tapas bars crowded every corner.
 
In the one we chose, dark-haired men stood behind a long counter, backs to us, hunkered over a stove.  They were busy submerging squid in oil and tossing peppers in a smoking hot cast-iron pan.  We pulled bar stools up to the high counter and watched the action of the cooks like we were following a soccer match. Our necks craned to see a plate of sausage and beans being delivered to couple across the room. Razor clams sizzled on hot skillets.  A tortilla passed so close that we could have reached out and taken a bite. We followed it with our eyes.
 
A round of steaming clams were set just to the right of us; their smell filled the small space. We immediately ordered a bowl and watched as one of the cooks, with a heavy pan, flicked his wrist sending a dozen muscles and their juices flying through the air.  He caught the wave of shellfish and broth without spilling a drop.
 
Without a word, he placed the bowl in front of us and cut thick slices of chewy bread, rubbing the surface with a half tomato to spread its sweet flavor like butter.  He picked up a slender bottle of olive oil and drizzled a golden sheen on top.  The bread glistened. He leaned in close, pinching sea salt between his thick fingers and sprinkled it over the bread like an artist applying the finishing touch to his masterpiece.
  
By my first bite, I had already fallen in love with Spain.

Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham by Victoria Allman

Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham by Victoria Allman

Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham
by Victoria Allman

1 1/2 pounds fresh clams
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4 cups cold water

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup Iberico ham, finely chopped (or Serrano ham)
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Scrub clams and soak them in water and coarse salt for 45 minutes.
 
Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat.  Add olive oil, Iberico ham, onions, and garlic.  Saute 3 minutes until the onions are soft.  Drain the clams and add to the pot with sherry.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes until the shells have opened.  Discard any that remain closed.

Toss with parsley and ladle into bowls.

Serve with crusty bread, rubbed with tomato and drizzled in olive oil, and a glass of wine.

Serves 4

recipe and article Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman

Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Ocean, by Victoria Allman

Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Ocean, by Victoria Allman

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom