Graeme’s “Wahoo-Sabi” Salmon

Fresh wild salmon-and tastes acquired abroad help ease the pain of moving ashore after our two years of world cruising. From "People and Food" for our January 2008 issue

Wahoo Sabi Salmon 368

On a clear spring morning in the Pacific Northwest, we were walking back to the boat, steaming lattes in hand. I surveyed our 35-foot ketch, Dragonfly, as we marched down the gangway. In the past two years, she’d sailed 17,000 glorious miles from Seattle to Central America, the South Pacific, and on to Hong Kong. Now, thanks to a container ship, she was back in home waters. With her new blue bimini and a fresh coat of paint, she looked better than ever.

“Since we off-loaded all our cruising gear, she sure sits high in the water,” I remarked to my husband, Graeme. In preparation for cruising, we’d had to raise the waterline-twice. But now the calm water of Eagle Harbor was lapping well below her midnight-blue boot stripe. I scrutinized Dragonfly’s hull further. She was riding high. Could she really have been weighed down that much? But with all the provisions loaded aboard, she’d had practically two tons of canned goods on her alone. We’d never eaten so many dried and canned foods as we had when we were cruising: bean salad, pasta puttanesca, clam chowder. I had to admit that fresh groceries-and espresso stands-had eased the hard transition of moving home. And it was tough to beat the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Just last night, we’d had one of Graeme’s signature recipes: teriyaki salmon on the grill. And he’d added a special touch that we’d picked up from cruising friends in the Cook Islands: wasabi mayonnaise. We’d christened this pale green sauce “wahoo-sabi” because it went so well with the abundant wahoo we’d caught when we sailed from island to island in the South Pacific. And now we’d discovered it was also the perfect complement to the pink, succulent flesh of wild salmon.

Lost in my reverie of Graeme’s gourmet dinner, I hadn’t realized that he’d stopped in his tracks. I turned back to see a sickened expression on his face. “Oh, no,” he groaned. I followed his gaze back to Dragonfly’s hull. Was it my imagination, or was she listing?


Later that day in the chandlery, Graeme learned that Lin and Larry Pardey were in town. They were our heroes; before going cruising, we’d read every book of theirs.

“Yeah, they were just in here,” the clerk said. “I chatted with them a bit. Sounds like some yahoo didn’t check his tide table and ended up on the hard. Boat’s leaning way over on the public dock.”

Graeme glanced from left to right like the villain in an old spy movie. He’d already told the clerk, with not a little pride, how we’d sailed our small boat all the way to Asia. The clerk had seemed impressed. Graeme grinned sheepishly, pulled out his wallet, and plunked down his purchase on the counter: tide tables for the Pacific Northwest.


Graeme’s “Wahoo-Sabi” Salmon
2 pounds salmon fillets (freshly caught
wild salmon is best)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons teriyaki marinade
Sesame seeds, to taste
1 lime, sliced (optional)
Cilantro, for garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 teaspoons wasabi paste (or to taste)

Pat salmon dry with paper towel. With diagonal strokes, score salmon flesh every eighth of an inch with shallow cuts (make them 1/16 to 1/8 inch deep). In a bowl, mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and teriyaki marinade (we use Kikkoman Toasted Sesame Quick & Easy Marinade). Brush marinade on salmon flesh and leave on for 15 minutes. (If using skinless salmon, brush marinade on both sides). Place salmon flesh-side down on hot grill. Cook until grill marks are sufficiently charred, about 3 minutes. Flip fish over and brush on a second coat of marinade. Cook until nearly done, about 7 minutes, depending on fillet size. Apply thin stripes of wasabi mayonnaise, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for a few more minutes; marinade and mayonnaise will begin to glaze. Don’t overcook. Garnish with limes slices and fresh cilantro, if desired. Serves four.