Hikianalia Crew Blog: Some Time with the Chef Master

Crew Blog by Leilani Josselin

The first few days have passed and the seas have finally calmed to a point where anyone with sea sickness is feeling better. The crews appetites are growing and with a crew of 15 it is no easy duty to cook for them.

My name is Leilani Josselin and I am tasked with the position of cooking and being the quartermaster. I will be cooking under the tutelage of legendary sailor of the Pacific and master cook aboard Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia Uncle Gary Yuen. I’ve known of Uncle Gary over the years from my involvement with Polynesian Voyaging Society but never properly met him until this leg 4 crossing of Alahula Kai o Maleka.

What little I knew! There’s no other man that can inventory a canoe faster or cook a better meal with the provisions provided aboard these canoes. Growing up in restaurants my whole life, from washing dishes to serving, never did I think I’d find myself cooking… And on a waʻa at that! But with the cheerful smile and always positive attitude of Uncle Gary, it has been lots of fun.

We started with making a shopping list of fresh produce that would remain seaworthy for as long as possible. Then there was all the shopping and storing. The trick to keeping the produce fresh and not bruised is knowing the best places to store them around the canoe for safe keeping. For example, we keep the tomatoes on the shelf, inside the hulls of Hikianalia opposite the stairways where we hang our harnesses after watch. That way they stay out of the salt air and are kept in a cool place where they won’t get smashed in rough seas. We also hang nets at the back of the canoe storing more durable fruits and vegetables.

So far we have caught about four mahi-mahi all ranging about 10 lbs each. This may seem small to most people but for a crew of 15 and no refrigeration, they were the perfect size. Different preparations include the always classic panko crusted, sashimi, and even poisson cru. But even better, because you don’t waste any part of the fish, Uncle Gary has showed me how to make fish broth using the head. This broth can be used to enhance the flavors in all sorts of dishes like curries, pasta sauces, soups, amongst other things.

Uncle Gary made an alfredo sauce by using this broth. He started by first boiling the head in fresh water then straining any particles. Then added onion, ginger, coconut milk, and cream of mushroom to the broth creating an awesome seafood alfredo sauce. One thing to be said is that a well fed crew is a happy crew and with Uncle Gary aboard, we sure aren’t starving.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s nights cooking lesson, and sharing future dishes with friends and family back home!

-Leilani Josselin



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