Slowly we ventured into uncharted waters. We pulled up anchor and sailed head first into the unknown, and boy did it taste good! Raw fish that is, or sushi, shashimi, nigiri or any other fun word you want to use to describe the fresh thinly sliced raw delicacy. I’m embarrassed to say we’ve been catching fish regularly for almost two months now and we are JUST starting to eat it raw. It’s a shame really, all this time wasted on cooking fish when at our fingertips has been the most delicious and freshest meat morsels we’ve ever had. There’s not a moment more to waste. If you still haven’t tried that fish you just caught raw, NOW IS THE TIME. Do not be afraid, it could be life altering.
Dani Snorkeling in Providencia

Of course I don’t just mean any old fish. Trust me that blue striped grunt (have you even heard of one?) isn’t going to taste very good but many, many others will. Varieties of Tuna, Snapper, Mackerel, Salmon, Bluefish, Striped Jacks, Sea Bass and Halibut (among others) make it onto the list of “Sushi Grade” fish and onto your plate at very expensive restaurants. Unless of course you live on a boat with a spearfishing maniac of a husband. My luck is the latter and how lucky I am. I can only speak on the fish we commonly catch here-shown below, Snappers (yellow tail, schoolmaster, red), Mackerels (cero) and Striped Jacks (blue).

Since I’m already making your mouth water imagining a delicately firm and very fresh piece of Mackerel atop perfectly flavored sushi rice I feel the need to add a disclaimer. Before you eat absolutely anything raw you need to do the research yourself online and get familiar with the proper care and handling of raw seafood. Make sure you know the area you are fishing and the risks of “Ciguatera”. Read about the condition “Anisakisis” (a whopping 10 cases reported last year in the U.S.!) and understand the risks of consuming raw products. We are fully informed and choose to “live dangerously” and partake of the gifts from the sea.

Long before we left our land based life Tate commented on how nice it would be to eat some of our freshly caught fish raw. I thought he was mainly talking about landing a possible Tuna of the boat during a passage and I briefly imagined having as much shashimi as my heart could desire but really couldn’t wrap my head around the idea. I was low and beaten down by my $100 dollar sushi dinners that always left me wanting more fish. The idea that I could eat myself silly just didn’t register and the planning for sushi faded away. However now that has changed.

You see where we come from food is EVERYTHING. Drinks are a very close second but food is number one. The better the food the happier we are in life. All major (and minor) events revolve around eating and so much of our life has been spent planning and preparing to cook…and eat. The tasting, tweaking, smelling and eventual eating is the mainstay to any Louisiana (Ahem, South Louisiana) household. So it’s no surprise that as Tate and I travel and improve our cooking aboard Sundowner our happiness also improves.
Tate Spearfishing for Sushi

Our trip aboard the sushi boat started one evening when Nike and Matthieu (White Spot Pirates) came over after a day of spearfishing to have dinner. To my great surprise she had prepared sushi rolls, the first I’ve had since leaving land. I was mesmerized. Rice, seaweed AND veggies rolled together with Snapper and Blue Striped Jack. She even had wasabi and soy sauce to boot! It was SUPERB. Honestly the taste of the fish was better than at any restaurant I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to a lot of good ones.
Sushi with White spot Pirates

How could this be? Wasn’t sushi some complex deal that required a lot of effort and know how to do correctly? You mean I could do this? I soon learned that I could. Since that fateful night our taste for sushi has grown. While fresh raw fish by itself is tasty it’s nice to add veggies to your liking. The grocery stores here are often stocked very well with fruits and vegetables, though not usually at the same store. I went to four different stores, all walking distance, to gather up this heap.
Veggies for sushi

It seems like the same core ingredients are used in a variety of sushi dishes. Cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, avocado and mild cheeses. To cut the actual sushi you need to filet and debone the fish. I also cut out the blood line and wash in fresh water. Next put the filet on a cutting board so it is horizontal to you. Then take a very sharp knife and cut vertically, against the “grain” and make 1/4″ slices. You can angle the knife 45 degrees if you wish to add a bit of angle and complexity to the piece. And WALLA ;), you are done. Feel free to give the fish a little taste as you cut it. Never trust a cook who doesn’t taste his food.
Sushi Veggies all cut up

If you prefer you can eat the fish alone or just with the veggies but we like to add rice, sushi rice that is. No it isn’t some special bag you pick up in the store, though you can. You can make “sushi rice” from regular white rice. I found a recipe I like which is as follows:

Sushi Rice Recipe

  1. Wash the rice until the water is clear (optional though I think the rice tasted better). I let the rice sit in water just above it before straining and repeating about five times. Skip this is you are low on water. I you are at home you can run the faucet over the rice for a couple of minutes until the water runs clear.
  2. Add water to rice in a 1.15:1 ratio (1.15 cups water to 1 cup rice) and cook uncovered on high heat. Stir the rice (with wood or plastic) every minute or two until the water boils and then cover the pot and lower the heat. After 6-8 mins if there is no more water to be seen it’s probably done. The recipe calls to transplant the rice to another container but we just leave it in the pot uncovered, gently stirring occasionally to release heat.
  3. In a separate sauce pot heat 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt until all the solids dissolve. Let cool. The recipe calls for double these ingredients using rice wine vinegar. Since rice wine vinegar is hard to come by where we are we used white wine vinegar and reduced the recipe since it’s a stronger tasting vinegar.
  4. Slowly pour and stir the vinegar mixture into the rice. That’s it, you are officially a sushi rice cooker!

Unfortunately we don’t have seaweed and aren’t good enough yet to make sushi rolls that don’t fall apart with just rice, though I’ve read you can with sticky rice, plastic wrap and a towel (Google it). Instead we just put everything in a bowl and add a bit of soy sauce and mayo with Tabasco. It is heaven I tell you pure heaven.
Sushi Bowls

The Snappers are milder with a softer and more delicate texture while the Ceros and Bluestriped Jacks have a slightly stronger flavor with a nice firm meat. I think I prefer the Jack to the Snapper for sushi, but the other way around for cooking.

Now go, go forth and eat raw you fish loving friends of mine.

I’m so happy we “discovered” the joys of making boat sushi now because I have years to try different varieties around the world. Tate however, while very much enjoys sushi, prefers cooked Grouper over any other kind of fish. Lucky for us he got a Nassau Grouper today, supposedly the best of them all. We are about to find out!

Typical afternoon when not spearfishing
Tate playing Scrabble

Another sun sets on our beautiful and wonderful life here.
Sunset in Providencia