The Sea Provides (and the Dude abides)
One of the highlights of this trip has been some of the meals that we have prepared onboard. The stars of these dinners have been ingredients fresh from the ocean. We have eaten Dungeness crab that went straight from the trap to the pot, prawns the size of sausages, and salmon so fresh it has never been refrigerated or frozen. In addition to the proteins above we also made some interesting discoveries. We met an amazing couple (Jo and Ron) in Thorne Bay who graciously shared some of their freshly harvested vegetables from the sea. Jo is a world-class forager and introduced us to sea asparagus and her delicious relish made from pickled bull kelp. (She maintains a fantastic blog that is well worth the visit: www.alaskafloatsmyboat.com) Sea asparagus is not a seaweed but actually a type of plant that grows right at the intertidal zone. It is small, bright green and has a nice crisp crunch with a flavor similar to a raw snap bean and a slightly salty finish. It makes a wonderful side veg when sautéed with olive oil, onion and garlic, but can also be used to compliment a salad or even as a salad on its own.
The relish was made from “bull kelp.” For the flatlanders in the group, bull kelp is long (like up to 20 feet) tubular seaweed (kelp) that has a ball at one end and tapers to a point—it looks kind of like a bull whip. I never knew you could eat this stuff as my only encounters have been when trying to avoid it lest it foul our prop or rudder (it is incredibly strong). But as every kid knows, everything is palatable with ketchup, so I’m not sure why I doubted the edibility of this stuff either. (This definitely does not need ketchup.) The relish is great and has the same texture as the pickled relish we are all used to with a slightly briny front end that balances the sweetness from the pickling nicely. We ate it with some cream cheese and crackers. I also tried it on hot dogs for lunch… so I guess it did have its inevitable meeting with ketchup.
Bottom line, I guess if it looks good then eat it, just avoid the yellow snow and round red berries (“tastes like burning!”). Bon appetite!