One of the few downsides to bluewater trolling is this: The fish don’t always come to your dinner table in convenient sizes. Nonetheless, the excitement of reeling tuna, mahimahi, or snapper over the transom and the subsequent sizzle of fresh fish cooking always portends a world-class gastronomic event. Even the least creative galley slave suddenly becomes, in the eyes of the appreciative crew, the reincarnation of Julia Child. Nothing more is needed than a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and a healthy squeeze of lemon at the presentation to produce a signature dish.
But once you’ve eaten your fill—and then some—it’s likely that you’ll have a lot of fresh fish still sitting in a cockpit bucket or in the fridge or freezer. During a 16,000-mile expedition voyage aboard Homefree, a Morris 51, from Roque Island, Maine, to Cape Horn and back, our crew of avid fishermen hauled aboard a smorgasbord of fish. Through trial and disaster (don’t mix fish and peanut butter for an appetizer!) we found a variety of creative ways in which to turn leftover fish into exotic dishes that were never-boring sequels to that first premier taste. One of our favorites was a two-burner Cajun fish-and-sausage jambalaya. When I make it now, the heat and tangy citrus finish in the dish still brings back the best memories of those challenging on-the-wind passages along the wild and little traveled western coast of South America.
Big Easy Jambalaya
- 1 pound spicy sausage (andouille is best)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 green, red, or yellow pepper, chopped
- 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 3 cloves fresh, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
- 2 pounds fish, cubed
- 1 pound fresh shrimp or 1 small can, drained
- Hot pepper sauce, to taste
- 3 cups cooked rice (optional)
- Plain yogurt, to taste
- 1 lime, squeezed
Cut sausage lengthwise into quarters, then into 1/4-inch wedges and brown in a large, oiled skillet. Add onion and peppers. Sauté until tender. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and reduce to a thick stew, about 20 minutes. Add fish and shrimp to the stew and simmer 10 minutes, or until shrimp are light pink and firm and fish flakes easily. Don’t overcook! Add hot pepper sauce. If using rice, place a scoopful in a wide-rimmed bowl and cover with jambalaya. Top with a little plain yogurt mixed with the pulp of the lime. Serve with crispy garlic bread for dipping. Serves four to six.