Ever since I set foot on our very first boat, I have been excited by the concept of eating, drinking and socialising on board. There really is nothing like the feeling of the water underneath you, the clean, fresh air all around you and, if you are lucky, some glorious sunshine warming your skin as you prepare and enjoy your favourite foods onboard.
This does come with a few challenges, however depending upon the size and layout of your boat. Those I have experienced include (in no particular order):
I have crawled under tables with a bag of vegetables in one hand and tried to hold up a hatch with the other. These are feats of which an accomplished gymnast would be proud. Sadly, I am no athlete. If you are planning to have friends over then it really helps to do as much preparation of food as possible at home and take it with you (those Lock and Lock plastic boxes with the flappy lids are brilliant, you can write on them with a Sharpie pen and they can be thrown in any boat locker, upside down, with no risk of leaking).
Boats can be a haven for crumbs. Plenty of kitchen roll or even a small battery operated vacuum cleaner is really handy. Washing as you go, dealing with rubbish and wiping surfaces before it all ends up on the floor also helps. There are some boaters who avoid the problem by simply not bringing these dry goods on board and those who race boats would certainly favour dried foods to save weight. As a leisure boater however, I like to work with an extensive collection of flours, seasonings, spices and sugars. Decanting dry goods into plastic pots also ensured that there were no problems when underway, everything was safe in the cupboards and it was easy to take everything home when packing the boat up.
Whilst I love cooking, occasionally the same person can end up tucked away in the galley. Many boat designs now have the galley area close to the seating, making it easy to chat, enjoy the fresh air and prepare food at the same time. On the boats where it is not so easy to do this, it may be useful to delegate tasks and take turns in the sunshine.
Over time you find things that work best onboard for you and what you want to do. Friends have their favourites, and nearly all foods seem to taste better outside. Dishes that have many stages of preparation may be best avoided when just starting to cook onboard. If you are travelling to your boat, ready for the weekend, a ready made lasagne or cottage pie for the first night takes the pressure off the cook (just check that your boat oven reaches the right temperature and that you have enough gas in the bottle if you use a gas oven). Boat ovens on gimbals can also make fantastic roasts as the motion of the boat naturally bastes what is inside. If the boat oven is small you may prefer to cook most things in one dish, if not, Lakeland sell some small excellent non-stick roasting trays that fit perfectly side by side in smaller ovens. They also don’t have rolled edges so water cannot collect inside when washed.
Rosemary and Garlic Infused Steak with Potato Wedges
- 2 sirloin steaks, trimmed
- Small sprig rosemary
- Few slices of fresh garlic
- King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes, washed and chopped into wedges (skin on)
- Sunflower oil
- Olive oil
- Stilton cheese (optional)
- Put the steaks into a vacuum sealing bag with the rosemary and garlic. You don’t need too much as the vacuum sealing really enhances the flavours.
- Seal according to the vacuum sealer instructions. Keep chilled until ready to use. These can also be frozen in the bags if you want to prepare them in advance, just make sure they are fully defrosted before cooking.
- Put the chopped raw potatoes into a roasting tray with a slug of sunflower oil.Leave to roast for about 45 minutes. Toss occasionally or allow a gimballed boat oven to do this for you!
- Light up your BBQ and enjoy the sunshine.
- Remove the steaks from the bag just before cooking. Brush with a little olive oil then sear for a few minutes on each side. If preferred, they can be kept warm in the oven. They become more tender if they can rest for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve with some Cornish sea salt on the wedges, a side salad and possibly even a slice of stilton on the steaks.
If you prefer fish, this can easily be adapted. Try sealing a fillet of sea bass or sea bream in the bag with a sprig of dill or fennel. Brush with oil and cook with the skin side down to protect the delicate fish from the heat. Add a slice of lemon just before serving. If using mackerel fillets, remove any bones (pin boning) before sealing in the bag.