Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grilled Hamachi Collar and Corn Fritters

A few weeks ago, when we were down at the Pike Place Market, we stopped in at Pike Place Fish to say hi to my long time friend Sam.  I'd been buying fish from Sam since I was a senior in college.  My last year at UW, after having gone through a fair share of living situations, I had a sweet corner studio apartment downtown and worked downtown.  I did a lot of shopping in the Market.  After a stint of living in Taipei after college, I returned to living downtown and resumed my Market shopping.  On this last trip, among other items, I asked for some fish heads for crabbing bait.  Sam gave me a little ribbing asking if I was really going to use it as bait because, after all, I am Chinese.  Yes, that was indeed my intention.  

I got the huge, I mean really huge, salmon heads home and started to ready them for freezing and transport for our Desolation trip.  Sam had split them in half, lengthwise, for me because there would have been no way to get one into a bait bag otherwise.  I surveyed the heads and called Chris over.  Hmmm, could I really let the meaty, juicy collars go to bait use?  No.  The salmon smelled very fresh, and so I proceeded to remove the collars and then marinated them for grilling.  Yes, let no good thing go to waste.  I doubt you would ever find fish collar displayed in a western market.  At least I have never seen any.  But if you go to a fish monger who might be filleting their own whole large fish, you might be able to convince them to sell you some, if they aren't keeping it for themselves.  I got some Hamachi collars at Uwajimaya this morning while out for other provisions for a sashimi and sushi night.  We may prefer the collar to most other cuts of fish.
2 Hamachi collars
1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp grapeseed oil
2 scallions, cut into 1" pieces
8 thin slices of ginger
freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and marinate the collar for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Take the collars out of the refrigerator about half hour before grilling.  Heat grill to medium high.  Grill the collars, meat side down first, for a few minutes a side, until just cooked through.  It's a hidden treasure after you thought you already got the prize.
Corn fritters was one of the amazing dishes we had in Vancouver at Suika Snack Bar.  I made sauteed fresh corn the other night and had some left over, so decided to make some corn fritters as well tonight.
1 1/4 cups fresh corn, or left over cooked corn
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sriracha hot sauce]
freshly ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and stir to combine well.  Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Add enough oil to coat the pan with about 1/8" oil.  Use a large spoon to drop dollop-fulls into the pan.  Fry each side for a few minutes until browned.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Duck Risotto with Truffle Oil

This is another dish we had at Dent that the girls asked me to make back home.  I was happy to oblige.  Follow your basic risotto steps and incorporate the duck at the end.  

For the duck:
2 duck breasts, skin on
salt and pepper
The day before, score the skin of the duck breasts and  place them on a dish uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.  You can cook the duck earlier in the day or right before you make the risotto.
Generously alt and pepper the duck breasts on both side.  Place in a roasting pan and roast at 400f for 30 minutes.  Turn oven down to 375f and roast for another 15-25 minutes until breasts are cooked through.  
Reserve a few tablespoon of the duck fat.  Remove and discard the skin from the duck and wrap the duck in foil and let cool to room temp.  Shred the duck with your fingers, cover/wrap until ready to use.

For the risotto:
1/3 lb Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup carnaroli rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
6-8 cups chicken stock, heated to simmer
1/4 cup mascarponi cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Heat the reserved duck fat in a large pan over medium heat.  Saute the mushrooms and garlic until the mushrooms just start to soften.  Add the risotto and saute until the rice is well incorporated and starting to make a slight whistling/crisping sound.  Deglaze with the white wine and simmer until wine is almost completely evaporated.  Begin adding the chicken stock, enough each time to just cover the rice.  Stir one and let simmer until the stock is almost completely evaporated.  Then add more stock.  Continue this process until rice is al dente.  
Add the duck, mascarpone and parmesan and another 1/2 cup of stock.  Stir until well combined and the duck is heated through.  
Serve the risotto with a drizzle of white truffle oil, freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and a little fresh arugula.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Grilled Avocado with Crab Salad

One of our favorite dishes from our dinner on Dent Island was grilled avocado, crab salad and gazpacho, and actually, the favorite part of that dish might well have been the grilled avocado.  Our gorgeous weather continues and tonight seemed like a great night to try a version of that wonderful dish.

This will serve 8-10 as an appetizer or side.
3 medium sized avocados, not quite fully ripe
fresh lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups lump dungeness crab meat
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (I used sun gold from my garden)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1 scallion, finely chopped, about 1 tbsp
1 tbsp olive oil 
zest of 1 lime, about 1 tsp
juice of half lime, about 1 tbsp
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Returning home from our trip, we found our first ripe tomatoes of the season from our garden.  There had been a few over the last week or so before we left, but we thought they were either being poached by neighbors or a furry beast during the night.  I'd wait until they were ready to pick, and then the next morning, they'd be gone.  But now we have plenty.  Ripe now are the sun golds which are like eating candy and in a couple of days or so, we'll have other larger varieties.  Tonight, we eat our first garden tomatoes.

Combine the cilantro, scallion, olive oil lime zest, juice and pinch of salt and freshly groudn pepper.  Then gently stir in the crab and tomato being care not to break up the crab too much or crush the tomato.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  This can be made a couple hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

To grill the avocado:
Prepare a hot grill, making sure the grill grates are cleaned.
Cut each avocado in half and remove the pit.  Remove the avocado from its skin in one solid half using a large spoon.  Cut the avocado into thick wedges, about 3 wedges per half. Drizzle with lemon juice to help keep it from growing.  
When ready to grill, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and grind pepper to taste.  Grill for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.  You want it on just enough to sear, but not too much to turn it to mush.

Serve fanning the avocado wedges out and spoon the crab salad over top.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back to Vancouver and then Home!

Day 6, Friday, August 10

According to the weather forecast, we were expecting heavy winds and rough waters for our last leg back into Vancouver down the Strait of Georgia.  The provisions have been emptying at a calculated pace.  I am hoping we will have little on the food front to take off the boat.  We will be spending our last night on the boat tied to the dock at Granville Island and pack up and leave tomorrow morning. 

Having been on the boat for seven days now really does remove you from the outside world.  We’ve had a couple of opportunities at remarkably slow wifi, no television, and though we do have intermittent cell coverage, our phones have not been in use.  This has made it extremely relaxing.  For Chris, a boating vacation like this is his favorite type of vacation.
We did have lovely weather on our last leg back to Vancouver, and were glad that the wind was on our backs as this made the trip much calmer.  After again filling with fuel and water, we relaxed for a bit before Marcel treated us to one of the best meals I've had in a while.  
We ate at Suika Snack Bar on Broadway and Fir Street.  It was fabulous and I over ate.  Marcel eats there about once a week and has made his way through much of the menu.  He knew all the best items to order.  It is a definite return to spot when we are in Vancouver again.  Here's what we ate:
 Lightly Smoked Tuna Tataki
Sashimi Shake Salad 
 Kiyuri Kimchi
 Salmon Carpaccio
Sashimi Five Kinds 
Torotoro Cha-Shu 
Chinese Poutine 
 Corn Kakiage
 Grilled Duck
Grilled Tuna Cheek 
 Kakuni Bibimbap
 Tuna Avocado
Tokyo Oxtail Ramen (a Maggie pick) 
Hellz Chicken

It's difficult to pick a favorite, as they were all fantastic and each unique in its own way.  Sooo good! 
We walked back to the boat on Granville Island and spent our last night full and content.  

Day 7, Saturday, August 11
Eyes opened at 7:45 and it was time to start packing up.  Hmmph!  The upside to being in a fairly small area is the limited space you have to search for stuff you may have left behind.  Packing was fairly painless.  Chris did a final check out with the charter company and we hit the road.  Marcel did not have far to go, and we decided to stop for lunch before our drive back to Seattle.  
Having been successful on our way down, we decided to go back to Tai Tung Chinese Seafood Restaurant.  This place really has it down.  It is a beautiful restaurant, good service and the freshest dim sum we've had in some time.  There are no carts.  You are given a menu that you use to check off the items you want.  Everything is delivered freshly cooked.  We had wok fried pea vines with garlic, fried squid and soy braised beef brisket.  It's definitely a return spot as well when we are back in Vancouver.  Again, no caucasians other than Chris in the restaurant.  Interesting.  Still a hidden gem perhaps?
After lunch, we made an eventless drive home.  The boat trip was outstanding; so relaxing and an absolute get away, but home is home.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Walsh Cove and Back Down to Garden Bay

Day 5, Wednesday, Aug 8

Our planned departure time was 10:00am, again at slack tide.  One night at Dent is not enough.  It really is just a little slice of heaven.  On the task list before heading out was water, ice, beer and fixing the generator. The first three were easy, the last item took a little more work.  First the boys checked to see if the raw water intake needed to be primed.  That failed, so our friend Jamie suggested it may be an impeller problem.  This did not hinder the guys from continuing to go down the priming route.  After futilely flushing tens of gallons of precious fresh spring water into the ocean, they were finally convinced it was indeed an impeller issue.  Jamie walked the guys through the simple steps of removing the faulty impeller and installing the new one.  It was yet another lesson in boating fun.
We pulled away from dock as scheduled and made our way back down through Gillard Passage, down Calm Channel, then through Pryce Channel down to Waddington Channel and into Walsh Cove to raft on to our friend’s boat.  Walsh Cove is a beautiful little spot with a couple of tiny islands to explore on and around. 
After an easy arrival and tie on, we decided to drop our shrimp pot and then Maggie and I would go explore the tiny islands.  Our flotilla turned out to be five boats and several dinghies in all with plenty of paddle boards, canoes, paddle canoes and kayaks to be used.
On the menu tonight was grilled prime tenderloin steaks, shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, sautéed corn and romaine salad.  No sauces, etc., just a little salt and pepper.  Excellent.
After dinner, be borrowed a raft mate’s tender that had an electric pot puller to pull our shrimp pot.  We dropped the pot in about 250 feet of water…that’s a lot to pull up by hand.  Marcel was relieved at this as I had already told him he was going to ‘get’ to pull up the pot.  The pot did not see much time in the water, but we were planning an early departure the next morning, so it had to be pulled before dark tonight.  Our quick drop yielded only ten spot prawns, but we were happy not to be skunked.  We will have them as an appetizer tomorrow night.

It was another fabulous day in the books.  After a little movie watching, a little star gazing, it was off to bed.  Early morning for us tomorrow as we start our trek back down to Vancouver.

Day 6, Thursday, August 9
I actually set my alarm this morning for a 7:00am wake-up targeting an 8:00am departure.  We were up late last night making it a more difficult wake-up.  We tried to quietly slip away in the morning so as to not disturb the rest of the cove, but the inevitable start of our engines and the pulling up of our dinghy did create a bit of a ruckus.  We were fortunate enough to fill our water tank with water off of our friend’s boat and then we were off. 
The captain requested a captain’s muffin, with bacon, for breakfast.  So, a lengthy bacon frying session ensued as BLTs were on the spreadsheet for lunch today.  Might as well get it all done in one go. 

Our route today was south through Waddington Channel, then leaving Desolation Sound behind, hugging the eastern edge of the Strait of Georgia on back down to Pender Harbour and finally anchoring in Garden Bay.  It was a long day to get down here, but we did so on fairly calm waters and blue skies.

After anchoring, we took the dinghy over to Madeira Park for a stop at the market to get some ice cream, something green to eat and a refill on chips and soda.  I have been feeling a serious lack of roughage, and will be making up for it tonight.  For dinner we are having food processor cut cheese burgers and grilled broccoli and the spot prawns we caught yesterday as an appetizer. 
I made the burgers at home and again, froze them for the trip.  I used Costco beef short ribs and processed them to a rough cut to form the patties.  I sautéed some sliced mushrooms to go with the burgers.  Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, lettuce and tomato rounded out our burgers for everyone but Chris, who opted for American cheese stating it interfered less with the taste of the beef. 
Stella made a quick attempt at fishing as we discovered an Eagle was out hunting for its babies and she was hoping to catch a fish for the eagle to bring back.  
Tonight’s dinner discussion was how each of us would alter the boat to better suit our likes.  Chris wanted a hard enclosure and rigid windshields in the cockpit area and solar and wind generators.  Marcel would like a little more headroom as he has banged his head countless times on various overhead surfaces.  I’d like to have everything bigger.  Maggie would like an even wider boat and redesign the interior salon area to include a larger kitchen and an outside grill station and have solar panels to help power the boat.  Stella would like a larger water tank as she could not fully grasp the concept that we are not hooked up to a water line and a straight instead of a curved couch for better lounging ability. 

After dinner, we all got into the dinghy for an after dark cruise around the harbour and then tucked ourselves into bed for a good sleep.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tuesday, Dent Island

Day 4, Tuesday, August 7

Another good night’s sleep.  Last night, after dinner, we had a little movie screening of Paul Blart, Mall Cop.  
This morning brought another glorious day of sunshine and warm air.  Marcel made one more scaling of the wall to untie us from our stern tie to the tree on shore.  We pulled anchor with much efficiency this time around, and we were off. 
Today we are making our way North to Dent Island to meet up with our friends.  We made our way up Waddington Channel then through Pryce Channel and finally up Calm Channel to Dent Island.  What do the girls do on board you might wonder.  There are books being read, games being played, and the old Nintendo DS has found its way out.  It has been a bit of rehab for us all without the ability to get onto the internet or for the girls not to be able to text their friends.  We still have cell coverage, but as we are in Canada, all wireless has been off limits to the girls. 

Breakfast was another bowl of bran cereal with some blueberries for me.  I’m off the Dramamine and feeling fine.  Morning coffee was a bit of work as our generator quit on us suddenly.  With no power for the coffee maker, we did it the old fashioned way.  We boiled water and used a percolator.  No one button push for us. 
Lunch today was brats and caramelized onions.  I cooked the brats in stout beer along with the onions at home and froze the brats and onions separately.  A quick warm up on the grill was all that was needed.
We arrived at Dent during slack tide, about 3:00.  The tides are so strong here, that slack tide is the best and safest time to arrive and depart.  We again filled our water tank, still no luck on the generator, but we were now on shore power.  We got some laundry done, took real showers, and all felt cleaner in the world again. 
Before dinner, we took a jet boat ride to tour the area and check out the strong whirlpools.  This was a hit with the girls.  Super fast boat, crazy waters, lots of fun.  Our friends had set up dinner at the tapas bar of the restaurant at Dent Island Lodge.  We stuffed ourselves on a six-course feast outside by the rapids. 

On the menu was:
Gazpacho with Grilled Avocado and Crab Salad
Duck Rissotto with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan
Grilled Fish Tacos
Sauteed Spot Prawns with Tomato Sauce and Grilled Polenta Cake
Grilled Steak with Mushrooms and Soft Baked Potato
Frozen Nougat and Grilled Pineapple and Diced Strawberries
It was definitely a meal to remember.  After dinner, we watched a few minutes of the Olympics and then headed back to our boat for a good night’s sleep on freshly washed sheets.