Afterguard’s Broiled Salmon Afloat
By Mary Swift-Swan
Cooking at sea is a special challenge. First,
a provisional plan has to be made that will not activate any
allergies, yet be appetizing to the crew. Sometimes crews at
sea lose their interest in food and without food lose their
energy to function well. Sailing is the main focus but the
food can be a highlight, particularly the dinner meal at the
start of the rotating watch schedule (three hours on watch
and three hours sleeping through the night).
food selected for these special meals needs to be
nutritionally balanced, easy to prepare, and tasty, but not
so heavy that the diner becomes sleepy on his watch. Food
often has to be repackaged for stowing aboard to ensure that
it is divided into adequate portions, sealed properly so it
won’t spoil, and wrapped well to keep it fresh and dry.
Planning meals with fresh or frozen food is carefully
orchestrated because of limited dry storage and
is a challenge to cook a fine meal afloat, especially when
wedged or braced into the small U-shaped galley. Cooking
activities are timed to the roll of the sea and the rhythm
of watches when people are awake and on duty. The galley
stove, when set free, swings on pins to the movement of the
boat, which is called being gimbaled. Gimbaling can make
stirring a sauce easy if the waves are timed right. Having
the side counter gimbaled also makes it easier to produce a
good meal in rough seas; things needed will not roll out of
reach. This trip was carefully planned so that it took place
during a three-day window between storms toward the end of
January. The crew welcomed a smooth ride to get the boat
down the coast toward Mexico for several weeks of skippered
charters before it heads home in early May. The chef was new
sailor Wayne Branscombe, cooking with an Afterguard recipe.
Salmon Afloat for a crew of 5 (The whole meal takes 20
minutes to prepare.)
Salmon filets, 1
1 tsp Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Lemon Pepper seasoning
1 Fresh Meyer lemon
1 T Butter or margarine
1 T Canola oil
Start the side courses first. When the
fish is started, it cooks very fast. We paired the Salmon
Afloat with a wild rice mixed with herbs, bits of mushroom,
and sherry sautéed sweet onion, adding the onion to the rice
when it was done.
First, sauté the onion in a frying pan and
set aside while the water boils and the rice starts. Wipe
out the pan and use the same pan for the salmon. Add a
splash of Canola oil. Canola does not burn like olive oil.
If you prefer the taste of olive oil, use 10 percent olive
oil and 90 percent Canola.
the broiler. Ovens can take about 10 minutes to heat at sea.
It needs to be very hot. Fresh fish smells light and fresh.
Place all of the salmon on a platter and salt it lightly on
one side. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Blot moisture off the
salmon drawn up by the salt. If poaching, place the filets
in milk for a 10-minute soak, then blot. For broiling, the
salt helps crisp the surface for a tasty result.
blotting, sprinkle the fish with the listed seasonings to
taste. Reserve the lemon for a garnish when serving so each
can choose how much to use. There will still be salt on the
fish, so it is not necessary to sprinkle salt on the fish
after blotting off the moisture. Dot the fish with bits of
butter. Heat a frying pan to medium high. Place the fish
backside down to sear the bottom. It takes about 3 minutes
for the fish to cook 1/3 of the way to turn the seared
portion of the meat to a milky pink.
the seared fish on a hot broiler pan, but don’t crowd
fillets. It is better to broil a few at a time rather than
lower the oven temperature. At home this might not be an
issue, but on a boat the hot broiler can cool too much to
achieve the desired result.
|1 c Best
1 tsp Minced sweet onion
¼ t Cream of Tartar powder
1 T Capers
½ tsp Dry Basil
¼ tsp Celery salt
Dash Fresh ground pepper
Dash Chili Powder
1 T Fresh Meyer Lemon juice
After approximately 5 minutes, the top of
the salmon fillet will be lightly browned from the butter.
When serving, place on top of the rice. To accent the
flavors, serve a Caper Tartar Sauce with a slice of Meyer
Lemon. If cooking in shifts, place back on the tray and
loosely tent till all are cooked.
Our chef was Wayne Branscombe, who had
answered an e-mail for an adventure afloat traveling south
by sail. Wayne wanted to find out what sailing life was all
about. After being a national champion recreational sky
diver all over the northern continent for 20 years, he was
looking for a new sport and challenge. Wayne helped Chuck
during the last three weeks of preparation before leaving
Vancouver on New Year’s Day. He learned to sail as they
slipped off the dock lines. Wayne is a network analyst who
primarily contracts to energy companies in Calgary and
on the two sports, he said they are much alike. They both
have lots of training and preparation for short periods of
excitement. Obviously, the time spent sailing is a lot
longer than dropping from a plane. Wayne was happy to learn
about cooking afloat as it might come in handy as he works
his way to Costa Rica and other points south by sailboat. At
the end of the day, there just aren’t many views that can
compare to those of the sea.
In the three days at sea, there were many
sights to enjoy. Off the coast of Monterey, the fog created
a light wind to sail by and the sun peaking through the fog
created a monochromatic daytime sea and soft sunset views.
South of Big Sur; a Dahl dolphin pod played off the bow and
around the boat for 20
as the pod of nearly 200 leaping playful creatures passed
by, heading out to sea. Vessels were few, but a sailboat
from Alameda named Bright Star passed close by to say hello
over the radio in the night. They were full of news of a
light breeze ahead in the Santa Barbara Channel where the
engine could be turned off and it was possible to sail in
clear and warmer air. In the morning near Pt. Conception, a
pod of Pilot Whales played near but not too close to the
boat, resurfacing for a few minutes, then disappearing for a
half an hour playing peek-a-boo for several hours. In the
afternoon, Steve and Captain Chuck pulled out guitars and
played a concert as they continued up the channel. At sunset
in the Santa Barbara Channel, even the light wind died down
which left a nearly glassy sea with a golden highway
pointing where the sun was setting. As the full moon rose,
it shined a trail-like silver highway, leading the boat to
its destination. Upon approaching the harbor, the crew on
the bow stood at
watching for crab traps, a constant concern when sailing in
less than 100 fathoms ( 600 feet
deep). In the morning, Santa Barbara showed itself to be a
very pretty town to make landfall.
If interested in joining Chuck and Laila
in the Sea of Cortez for a week or weekend this spring,
contact Afterguard Sailing Academy at (510) 333-1121.