Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Orange-Ginger Fish & Jimmy Buffet

Note: In the following, the names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.

With apologies to Jimmy Buffet.


I hate fish.

That's why I eat them.

"She came down from Cincinnati..."

The day broke hot and humid with no signs of the storm to come. We were on Grand Cayman, the largest island in a group of three a couple hundred miles south of Cuba. The day charter sailed out of Governors Harbour. Captain was an ex-merchant marine by the name of Crosby; Crosby seemed to be only a few degrees south of 70, others said just south of 80. His wife, some said third, some said fourth, was from Cleveland and worked the galley; she hadn't yet seen the shady side of 45.

An hour of sailing brought us to the reef hard by the cut. We put on our snorkel gear and hit the water. Under the boat, the depth was about 40 feet. There was a gently rising slope as you approached the coral wall, finally getting to a point where you were wading in 3 feet of water.

The cut led to open ocean. Inside the wall was lukewarm, body temperature bath water, the waves brought a chill, melted ice from down deep. A lot more than a chill runs in on those waves.

"Fins to the left, fins to the right, and I'm the only bait in town."

In the water we were immediately surrounded by fish. Angel Fish, Yellowtail, Grouper, Eels, Stingray and, off in the distance, the malevolence of a lone barracuda. My sister-in-law Louise and I were snorkeling together and soon found ourselves inside a horseshoe shaped part of the coral. We were in about five feet of water, behind us the depth quickly dropped to 20 feet.

"Just inside the reef are the big white teeth of the sharks swimmin' up from the sand."

The first thing I felt was a push on my right side. Next came the muffled sound of an underwater yell. Louise had pushed me and was pointing to my left. Heading toward us, out of the deeper water, a 5 foot shark.

If fish can saunter, that's what this shark was doing. I didn't sense it was aggressive or angry, just curious. It had closed the distance between us to about 15 feet when it happened. As the shark approached, Louise pushed me again in the direction of the shark. By now the distance had dropped to less than 10 feet. I raised my hand toward the fish and with the flick of it's tail it turned around and was gone.

"Looking for some peace and quiet, maybe keep my dreams afloat."

My close encounter was over. I turned toward Louise to thank her for pushing me toward an oncoming predator, but found her gone. I poked my head up out of the water to find her.

Some say people can't walk on water. Some say only Jesus could pull off that feat. I'm here to tell you that you're all wrong. Because there she was making about 20 knots, the SS Louise moving back toward Crosby under full steam.

We still talk , Louise and I. Though now, whenever I'm swimming and I hit a cold spot, I always look over my shoulder just to be sure.

Today's recipe is very easy and comes from a food blog called Beyond Salmon. Enjoy.

Fish with Balsamic Orange Ginger Glaze
from Helen Rennie at http://beyondsalmon.blogspot.com

Fish Options: salmon, halibut, steelhead trout, arctic char or pretty much any relatively thick fillets that are not too dense.

Serves 4

4 fish fillets without skin (6oz each)
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp oil
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the broiler and wrap a broiler pan with foil.

  2. Season fish generously with salt and pepper on all sides.

  3. Combine honey, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice, orange zest, ginger, and oil. Mix well and coat fish with this mixture. Fish should be only lightly coated, as too much of the glaze can burn under the broiler.

  4. Broil fish 4 inches away from the flame just until browned, 3-5 minutes. Pour the rest of the glaze on top of fillet and finish in the 425F oven until done. The total cooking time (broiling plus baking) should be about 8 minutes per inch of thickness. To test for doneness, separate the flakes in the thickest part and look inside. Fish is done when a trace of translucency remains in the center.

If the fish is fairly thin, you may be able to get away with just broiling it for 5-6 minutes. This is a bit of a tough call, but the arctic char in my picture was done this way. Then again I like my fish done medium to medium well.

Note: I did not forget to tell you to flip the fish. Cooking it only on one side allows the glaze to really caramelize on top.


wheezy said...

Listen Crabby, why has your memory not eroded like everyone else your age? I don't remember the events exactly as you describe them in your blog, but it certainly makes a wonderful story! xoxo Wheezy

www.crabbycook.com said...


Given your role in the events described, your selective memory is entirely understandable.

Attempted homicide is such an ugly business.