Before my husband, David, and I left to go cruising, our dream was to eat fresh fish every night for 365 straight days. Unfortunately, our fishing prowess had precluded that dream until Winterlude, our Passport 37, was anchored 120 miles out in the middle of nowhere, behind a reef and a spit of land in the Cayos Vivorillo, off the easternmost corner of Honduras.
After a bumpy overnight passage we couldn’t wait to swim and snorkel on the colorful coral reef, which teemed with fish. Of course, we took just enough for our own consumption. We were living our dream: eating fish or seafood at every meal.
With perfect timing, a friend on another boat shared a recipe for cioppino, which is an Italian-style fish stew. But we didn’t have the ingredients; most cioppinos contain many kinds of seafood.
We did have a fresh black grouper, so we simplified the recipe using ingredients we had on board. This cioppino became an instant favorite, and we’ve eaten it in anchorages all over the western Caribbean—and not just when we have too much fresh fish!
Catch-of-the-Day Cioppino Recipe
Makes Two servings
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced finely
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1 10-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 fresh tomato, diced
- Oregano, basil, or
- Italian-spice blend, to taste
- Marjoram, to taste
- 1 8-ounce can sliced mushrooms with liquid
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- Parsley, to taste
- 2 grouper fillets, or any fish/seafood
- 2 servings pasta, cooked
- Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated, for garnish
Sauté onion, garlic, and pepper in butter. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomato, spices, marjoram, and mushrooms with juice. Crumble bouillon cube into pan and mix. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add parsley, place the fish fillets on top of the sauce. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes each side, depending on the type of fish, or until it turns just opaque. Serve over pasta with Parmesan.
The recipe above is one of many found in The Boat Galley Cookbook: 800 Everyday Recipes and Essential Tips for Cooking Aboard by Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons (2012; International Marine; $36). This is much more than a cookbook. A large part of the cruising life is in the planning, preparing, and sharing of a good meal, and this useful book will guide you through each stage. Shearlock and Irons have extensive cruising experience on both sides of Mexico and Central America and in the Caribbean, and it shows. Unlike many galley cookbooks that seem to target weekend sailors, this one is made for liveaboard cruisers, with sections on shopping off the beaten track, ingredient substitutions, potluck ideas, meatless recipes, how to clean conch, and even how to make canned meat taste good.