Tangy Tuna Sushi

On a western Caribbean passage, a family finds the pirates’ legacy but a different kind of treasure from the sea. (Recipe and on-line extras from "The Pirates of Providencia," November 2003).

Tangy Tuna Sushi

1 cup short-grain rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar**
1 fresh, sushi-quality tuna fillet
(or sea bream, lobster, crab, or salmon)
1 package wasabi powder
1 cup soy sauce
Chives, for garnish

** Season 1 cup of rice-wine vinegar by adding 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.

Place rice in a bowl. Rinse with cold water two or three times, until water no longer turns milky but runs clear. Add the rice to the water, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes before bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to low for 10 more minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes, always keeping the rice covered. Transfer to a large, non-metal bowl and toss until no longer steaming. Continue to toss while adding the seasoned vinegar, one tablespoon at a time. Cover with a damp cloth. Slice fish fillet into 1 1/2-inch squares about 1/8-inch thick. Make wasabi paste by adding water according to package instructions. Place one dab of wasabi paste on each tuna slice. With wet hands, roll sushi rice into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Invert a tuna slice and place one slice on each sushi ball so that the wasabi is between the rice and the tuna. Wrap the balls in squares of plastic wrap and twist tightly. Set balls in a cool place for at least 15 minutes. Unwrap. Serve on a platter with chives for garnish and a small bowl of soy sauce for dipping, and enjoy this honest, eye-opening flavor from the sea!

Cheese Blintzes

2 cups milk
4 eggs
Dash salt
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup sour cream
Fruit jam, to taste

Blintzes are crepes filled with cheese and topped with sour cream and jam. Prepare the crepes by mixing milk, eggs, salt, and flour in a bowl until smooth. Heat a small skillet or crepe pan until water sprinkled into the pan sizzles. Pour in the crepe mix and thinly cover the bottom of the pan, tipping it from side to side and pouring off any excess that doesn’t immediately “stick.” Cook the crepes on one side only, just until they look dry (about one minute). Remove. To prepare the filling, mix cottage cheese, egg, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Spread two tablespoons of filling onto the corner of each crepe. Fold the sides of the crepe over to make an envelope (top, left, right, then bottom) until you’ve made a square pouch around the filling. Melt butter in a large skillet. Place the filled crepes seam-side down and cook until golden brown.

A delightful British couple anchored next to us in Providencia gave us a recipe for the best conch fritters we’ve ever eaten. From the Bahamas through Jamaica and on to Belize, we’ve tasted none better. Set out this appetizer with a spicy cocktail and tartar or mustard-mayonnaise-caper sauce and your guests will enjoy themselves past their capacity for a main course!

Conch Fritters

2 large conch (or a combination of calamari and crab)
1 small onion
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon baking powder
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Olive oil for frying

Crank conch through the fine cutter of a meat grinder, or pound and dice finely. Finely gind onion. Mix all ingredients and add enough water to make a batter that falls somewhere between the consistency of bread dough and pancake batter. Drop by the teaspoonful into hot oil (365 degrees). Cook until golden brown.