Spice it up with, and for, a long life

Without doubt my favourite flavour profile comes from South East Asia. Colonisation and trade have evolved the foods of the region to a spectacular cacaphony of aromas and tastes.

From a typical spice rack, you could not really have done the foods of this cruising ground justice, until recently. Thanks to those tedious reality cooking shows, a wider variety of ingredients in forms well-suited to us cruising helmspeople are now common on supermarket shelves.

I am having a bromance with powdered lemongrass and shelf-stable tofu at the moment.

While powdered lemongrass is something I have not previously shared with you, it now has a permanent place in my herb and spice collection aboard.

Tofu is just tofu, but it is good to see a company making a shelf-stable product in a packaged size ideal for our needs. Handy to have just in case the fish are not biting or when local meat prices upon landfall are a little too steep.

I generally provision three types of edible oils aboard: a versatile neutral vegetable oil for frying and for making condiments like mayonnaise; olive oil for dressings and sesame oil for its decidedly Asian aroma and flavour. A little sesame oil goes a very long way.

Crab in broth is a perfect aromatic brunch best enjoyed at anchor with a breathtaking view. This recipe uses all fresh ingredients. Equivalents from the spice rack work just as well, but will result in a cloudy broth.

Meats marinated in fruit is not just a Korean ‘thing’. Beef marinated in pear with a touch of onion and garlic makes for a pretty good barbecue and is a step up from a more mundane soy sauce-based marinade.

On the subject of fruit, I have recently perfected a Philippine banana ketchup recipe that can be prepared entirely from shelf-stable and long-life ingredients. You might, at first glance, dismiss this condiment as a little out-there. I do urge you to try it with barbecued pork or fish. It will win you over be assured, you will be raiding your snacks locker for the banana chips to make this ketchup time and again.

Pepper tofu

Serves 2

  • 1 block UHT tofu

  • 1 onion

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1tsp soy bean paste

  • 1Tbsp cracked black pepper

  • 1Tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup water

  • a few drops sesame oil (optional)

  • chilli and green onion to garnish

  • prepared rice.

Cube the tofu and shallow fry in batches if necessary on all sides in the two oils until browned. Remove from skillet, blot on paper and keep warm.

Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic. In a little more oil (if required), sautè until soft and coloured.

Add the bean paste and pepper and stir to coat. Add only enough water to create a thick sauce consistency.

Return the tofu and stir to combine.

Serve garnished with chilli and green onion over rice.

Mud crab in broth

Serves 2

  • 1 mud crab

  • 1 onion

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 green chilli

  • 1/2 thumb-sized piece ginger

  • 1 stalk lemongrass

  • 1 star anise

  • 1Tbsp soy sauce

  • 1/2 lime, juice only

  • 2 cups water

  • salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the onion and lemongrass into bite-sized pieces. Slice the garlic, chilli and ginger finely. Add the water, onion, lemongrass, garlic, chilli, star anise and soy sauce to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Cut the crab in half and clean. Wrap in foil and bake in a hot barbecue for 7~10 minutes or until cooked.

Add the lime juice to the broth and divide between two bowls.

Carefully unwrap each portion of crab being sure to pour any juices into the bowls. Mount the crab in the centre of each bowl.

Grilled beef

Serves 2

  • 500g beef strips

  • 1 pear

  • 1Tbsp onion powder

  • 1/2tsp garlic powder

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • green onion to garnish.

Peel and grate the pear and combine with remaining ingredients. Set aside to marinate.

Barbecue on a high heat until nicely browned. Garnish with a few slivers of green onion.

Banana ketchup

Serves 4

  • 1tsp onion powder

  • 1/2tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2tsp ginger powder

  • 1/4tsp ground coriander

  • pinch chilli powder

  • 1/2Tbsp tomato paste

  • 1/3 cup dehydrated banana chips

  • 1/2 cup + 2Tbsp water

  • 2Tbsp white vinegar

  • 1 Tbsp brown Sugar

  • 1/2tsp vegetable oil

  • salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, combine the banana chips and 1/2 cup water. Leave to hydrate for 1 hour, or more, until soft.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, chilli and tomato. Cook for a few minutes before deglazing with the vinegar and the 2 tablespoons of water.

Mash the hydrated banana and water with a fork to a paste and add to the saucepan along with the sugar. Cook the mixture for a further 10 minutes or so, using a mashing rather stirring motion during this cooking time.

A little of the extra water might be required to thin the ketchup to a sauce consistency.

Season to taste and chill before use.

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