The Spice Necklace Blog

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The Grenadines:
June 8, 2011
A fridge full of Omega-3s (again),
and two tricks for speed-ripening fruit

“Do you eat red meat?” Steve asked our Bequia friends Sally and Tom, whom we’d invited to dinner onboard. Our dorado was all eaten and, unfortunately, we’d been skunked on the 9½-hour passage from the south end of St. Lucia to Bequia. The only main course left in the freezer area of Receta’s fridge was skirt steak.

Luckily, their answer was “yes.”

Kingfisher: Steve, with what’s soon-to-be 12½ pounds of steaks
But two days after our dinner with them, sailing from Bequia to Union Island, the freezer now even emptier (luckier still), we landed another fish: this one, a kingfish, a.k.a. king mackerel, a member of the tuna family. Steve was beyond excited. We’d landed kingfish in the past, but never a 43-inch one that weighed about 20 pounds. “A high-preference species sought after by all,” says a cookbook-cum-seafood guide published by the Seafood Industry Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago that we have onboard. “…It has excellent culinary and organoleptic properties.” (“What the hell are those?” Steve asked. I didn’t have a clue and neither did my hard-copy Webster’s. But bless the web: They’re qualities that stimulate the sense organs, such as taste, smell, feel, and color.)

Kingfish isn’t at the top of my personal preference list – those slots are held by tuna and dorado – but still. Kingfish is popular throughout the Caribbean with good reason.

The grill of the chased: 30 minutes
in the marinade, 5 minutes a side on the 'cue
The steaks are excellent barbecued (it’s frequently the fish you’ll find cooking over the coals on the island grills made from old oil drums), and also stand up well to baking, stewing, and pan-frying. So far, we’ve barbecued the steaks after marinating them in an Oriental ginger-garlic-soy-sesame oil mixture, and in a Caribbean-inspired combo of lime juice, pepper rum, olive oil, and garlic (the recipe is in The Spice Necklace). Next up is to substitute our “chicken of the sea” in my Plantain-Crusted Chicken Fingers recipe (also in The Spice Necklace, or you’ll see it online here.)
Fishing for condiments: Try the grilled
steaks with mango salsa

But I can hear what you’re thinking: Enough already about their fish. So on to papayas and mangoes – and how to help them ripen quickly when you just can’t wait. While we were anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia, a guy named Joseph rowed up in his small wooden dinghy, offering fruit for sale. I admire the ambition of someone who has to row out from shore to flog his wares instead of just pulling the start cord of an outboard, and zipping from cruising boat to cruising boat to make his sales. Since Joseph had some lovely looking, though not quite ripe, papayas, supporting his effort with a purchase (two, in the end) was easy. “Cut off the stem and cut through the skin,” he said, “and the papaya will be ready quicker.” Our Grenadian friend Dingis had also shown us this trick, which she called “milking” the papaya: Score the skin lengthwise along the ridges, from stem to blossom, with the tip of a sharp knife. This allows the white “milk” to seep out, and hastens the ripening. Try it – it works. No doubt, Joseph’s addition of slicing off the stem, taking a bit of fruit with it, speeds up the process even more.

Unripe for the picking: If your papaya
is still a bit green when you get it,
try “milking” it to speed the ripening

Which reminded me of another tip we’d gotten recently – this one for making sure your mangoes ripen. I’d purposefully selected green ones to buy from the elderly woman who has a tree in front of her house on the road into Portsmouth, Dominica, because I still had a couple left onboard. “Don’t put them near your limes,” she warned. “They stay green.” Olive, our go-to market woman in Marigot, St. Martin, had told us the same thing years earlier regarding plantains: If you store them with citrus, they won’t get ripe.

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4 comments on “The Grenadines:
June 8, 2011
A fridge full of Omega-3s (again),
and two tricks for speed-ripening fruit

  1. Lynn on said:

    Well done…the fishing part not the cooking part that is. Obviously, trading that excellent bottle of Barbancourt rum for our spare reel was a good luck move for you.

  2. Natalie on said:

    I am going to have to send you a bill for my laptop because you have me salivating all over the kepboard again. As the poet once said, YUM.

  3. Martin on said:

    Our grocery-store papaya is almost always unripe. I’ll have to try milking it. Great tip.

  4. sally Erdle on said:

    Hey, guys — that wasn’t just any ol’ red meat, the was the rare and elusive SKIRT STEAK. What a treat. We can eat fish any time ;-)

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