Why is it that so many sailor’s recipes tend to fall into either of two categories: Mush or Soup? You may be living on a boat, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat one-pot meals or camp stew every night. Whether we are in a protected port or out at sea, on Projection we always place an emphasis on good, healthy and delicious feasts.
Our spacious galley boasts three stove-top burners, an oven, fridge and freezer, and is designed to be safe at sea, so there is really no excuse not to go gourmet. But even if your floating home has fewer amenities, some of these tips will apply, and can help you cater in style.
- 1. Sprouts. This is an oldie but a goodie, and if you’re not sprouting on board yet, you should be! It’s so easy, and just about any boat-set up can do it. Try different legumes to find the ones you like most. Brown lentils are a fast and tasty option – they sprout in just 2-3 days and deliver some incredible crunch to salads or sandwiches. Just let them soak in a jar overnight, then drain out the water and keep them at a 45degree angle with occasional rinses a few times a day. You could also use a hanging mesh bag, though this requires far more frequent rinses.
- 2. Herbs. We love to cook with fresh herbs, and their flavour can truly transform a meal. A basil and parsley herb crusted fish, or a sprig of mint with your watermelon bites, a little bit goes a long way. Growing your own on board doesn’t have to be difficult, all you really need is a planter in a secure spot with adequate sunlight. Plants can be in hanging baskets, nestled into re-purposed shoe-organisers, or grown in pots designed specifically for sailing boats like these ones from Ark Living:
- 3. Jams and compotes. A great way to add gourmet flare to your food is with jams and compotes. These can be pre-made when the boat is in a calm anchorage or at a marina, and they keep well – if you can help yourself from finishing them all! Often we trade items for fresh fruit, but can’t get through it all before it goes bad, so conserves are a perfect solution. Mango chutney with a seafood dish, berry compote with camembert canapes, or tomato salsas with pasta are just a few ideas.
- 4. Freezing sauces and herbs. Freezers are obviously a great way to save your food for later, and on a boat they can be invaluable, but aside from the typical fish filets, you can save herbs and sauces this way. Frozen herbs may not look as pretty, but they retain their flavour well so we use them to add an extra kick to egg breakfasts etc, if we don’t have any fresh herbs on board. Pre-made sauces and dressings can be kept indefinitely in the freezer, and are great for whipping up a crafty meal in a rough sea.
- 5. Think fresh, think local, think salads. We eat a lot of salads on board Projection. There is just no end to the creativity here, and we’ll often make a leafy base with home-made sprouts and herbs, combined with local-market spinach, arugula or lettuce, then diversify it with special toppings. Fresh fruits (apples, oranges, figs, pomegranates) are great, all types of nuts and seeds (walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc..), cheese if we have it (gorgonzola is a favourite, but mozzarella or parmesan work well too), and our fresh catch if we’ve hooked something. Aside from the obvious health benefits, salads can be extremely filling and beautiful.
- 6. Sushi. Fresh fish is so abundant in a sailor’s life, it’s important to find creative ways to eat it! We love sushi on Projection, for it’s beauty, nutrition and mouth-watering flavours. If you don’t know how to ‘roll’, don’t be daunted – it’s not as hard as it looks. Just a few simple tricks (find them here) and you’ll be off and rolling to your sticky-rice-hearts content. Also, if you haven’t caught anything in a while, you can just use tinned tuna or store bought smoked salmon for a surprisingly tasty treat. If you’d like a wholesome alternative to all the white rice – use brown rice for a healthy boost. On Projection, we always have rice-wine vinegar, nori rolls, wasabi and ginger on board for a wow-worthy, light sushi lunch.
- 7. Get creative. One of our favourite go to dishes for passages on Projection is a delicious roasted vegetables meal. The ingredients can all be chopped into rough pieces and baked together, so preparation is a cinch. We coat them in a coconut oil glaze which adds a gorgeous nuttyness, but what really makes these crisp and creamy veggies pop, is the topping. A tahini base mixed with olive oil, salt, lemon and garlic makes this a mediterranean flavour sensation and adding fresh-cut herbs is great too. This dish is a great way to spice up those long-lasting vegetables you’ve got on board, and the nutrients in every bite pack a punch. A simple, easy to store jar of tahini (or sesame oil, or dijon mustard etc..) can add huge amounts of flavour to a meal and give even the simplest of recipes a special twist.
- 8. Baking. Many pages have been written on the virtues of fresh bread at sea, and we can certainly corroborate them. What better way to wake up than the smell of fresh pastries in the oven? If you’re in the tropics, the morning is a good time to bake, before it gets too hot. Honestly, whether you’re a galley aficionado or kitchen rookie, baked goods are an easy, delicious snack solution. Make a simple no-kneed whole-wheat loaf, a super quick and easy savoury muffin, or go the whole hog and make everyone fresh croissants! Pastries don’t have to be un-healthy, and on Projection we use coconut oil instead of butter, maple syrup, dates or honey instead of sugar, and wholewheat flour instead of white. The options are endless, but the treats won’t last long!
- 9. Canapes. Speaking of snacks, who doesn’t love finger food? Because crew don’t often want a heavy meal, canapes on a boat make so much sense. There are some gorgeous recipe ideas out there, and for so many of them the beauty is in the simplicity. You can go for a traditional crudities board with easy home-made hummus dip, or get creative with cute tuna-filled cucumber cups, mini mozarella-tomato-basil balls, date and nut protein bites, or various colourful bruschetta like these:
- 10. Stock up. We all love to cruise to those beautiful remote locations, but it’s true their markets don’t stock a lot of variety. In the Pacific, you’ll find mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish in abundance and coconut everything, but aside from the standard rice and pasta, base grains can be hard to come by. Thankfully, more exotic items like polenta, quinoa, buckwheat etc store really well, and can be kept for months. If you’re passing through cities with easy to reach supplies, stock up on some of these interesting grains. They add great variety, flavour and health benefits to ordinary recipes.
- 11. Presentation. Last but not least, this often overlooked suggestion is an important one. It may seem silly, but food that is carefully plated and well presented simply will taste better! Just because you’re on a boat doesn’t mean every meal has to be slopped into a bowl. Even in rough conditions, a little garnish, cracked pepper or dash of extra sauce on the plate goes a long way. It shows the chef put love into the meal, and brings colour and life to the dish.