Thursday, 1 September 2011

We Caught a Fish!

This is the third time I have started this blog. I do believe I could well have the time at last to finish this one in the same sitting. But then who knows, I have my beef Carpaccio to finish and my very nice glass of red to drink, the bill to pay and a dinghy ride back to the boat to interrupt things. Let’s see how we get on.

Here I sit, in a little French restaurant in Cogolin, near St Tropez and back in France. I have to remember to say Oui and not Ci, Merci and not Gracias. Its all very confusing for the bilingually challenged you know.

So how did the regatta go in Mahon you may well ask?  It was a great regatta with some brilliant sailing and plenty of wind; one first place and two second places, so we claimed a second overall. But we did beat Moonbeam 4 twice out of 3 races over the line which says it all for us…

The sailing was awesome, the entertainment was spot on and our guests were a joy to have.

But the best news of the week, the highlight of the season so far and I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath (relevant joke in there);

We caught a fish! 

We left Menorca for France on a 48 hour trip on Monday afternoon. I was just considering taking the roast leg of lamb out of my little galley oven that evening for dinner (which of course wasn’t cooked through enough despite having been ‘roasting’ away for an hour and a half…don’t get me started). Then came the most exciting call of ‘FISH’ as the engine was swiftly dulled to neutral and the entire crew rushed up on deck.

Have you ever caught a fish on a line before? It is a very exciting hunter’s desire to battle yet adore what is fighting so hard against your line and hook. What a moment when you first catch a glimpse of his huge powerful body as he is slowly drawn nearer on the reel. Then you finally manage to get him in the air and he is still fighting like the king of the sea that he is. You can’t rest once he is on the boat. He will continue to fight hard and you have to fight to keep him there. The swiftest blow to the head and a well directed knife will ensure he is all yours with as little struggle as possible. He was so beautiful and so big. George was literally shaking with adrenaline.

What a moment we will never forget. And just for those who think that surely I should be supporting the over-fishing cause, well this is how it should be done. One line; one fish at a time. If you’re still not convinced please read my blog ‘Mariquita’s mackerel meal with a message’
So roast lamb was served once Mr Tuna was gutted, skinned and filleted and the beautiful meat was wrapped and put on ice. I thanked our fish further as the lamb was given more time to complete it’s cooking in my ‘Force Ten’ oven due to the distraction he gave.

He also gave me a chance to try out my new Global knife and my long dormant sashimi knife. Bless that tuna. Big respect.

And what did I do with it?  Where shall I start?  I decided on a seared tuna steak salad for lunch. A Nicoise of some sort. The simplicity is a necessity when your prize catch is to be the star of the show and as we were France bound I thought it appropriate.

 The great thing about this salad is how each ingredient compliments the very briefly seared tuna so brilliantly. The crisp iceburg lettuce and a garnish of firm green beans. The lightly roasted new potatoes with lemon zest and black pepper, cooled to just warm. HHHHhhalved boiled eggs and a tangy, garlicky, zesty lemon salad dressing. So you see, absolutely nothing complicated served with some warmed herb ciabatta bread (great for deliveries because it lasts and heats well). And when you sear the tuna the pan must be so hot that the tuna sears instantly just on the outside and remains in the pan for no longer than 2 minutes so that the inside of the steaks are still completely pink.

It was delicious. As was dinner. This time I took the Japanese twist as one really must with freshly caught tuna. The main star of the show was to be perfectly raw tuna Carpaccio, laid thinly on large serving plates, drizzled with hot sesame oil and freshly squeezed lime juice. Just the smallest pinch of salt and dash of soy sauce, a garnish of Furikake seasoning and nori, served with coconut rice infused with cardamom and star anise. I stir fried some vegetable spaghetti (with my clever little vege spaghetti tool) in ginger, garlic, chilli and fresh coriander. And of course I cut a lot of sashimi served with the obligatory wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. Ace. Really, very ace.

We are all so lucky.

So here we are back in France amongst all things French. It feels a bit like being home which is funny. And we’re at anchor again. You know how much I love that…

Talking of which, I best pay the bill here and catch a ride back to the boat. Pretty chuffed I managed to start and finish this blog and eat dinner at the same time. It did take two glasses of vin rouge however. I wonder if I look funny sitting alone in a restaurant, typing and reading bits out aloud to myself whilst munching on fries…

I really can not rave enough about how much nicer it is to be a little bit cooler though. I was getting quite bored of sweating from dawn till dusk and then some. That’s a nice little bit of information for you!

Thanks for reading. I’ll be with you again shortly with a September recipe. We have some time to relax and repair our aching bodies before the next regatta so I’ll be cooking up a storm or two in my hopefully less than 33 degrees galley.