An afternoon cuppa, come hell or high water

Although carry on kayaking sounds very British, to do so at 4pm, simply wouldn’t do.

Tea is as British as some of our most famous exports including punk rock, queuing, fair play, football and hooliganism and, Octane being miles from civilisation is no reason to lower standards. Come hell or high water, the Scottish seas offering much of both, we stop for a cuppa at 4pm.

Boiling water

For its pure simplicity the Kelly Kettle is much loved means of boiling water the world over – it can be fuelled with small twigs and eliminates the need for transporting heavy fossil fuels or prolonged sessions gathering driftwood and boils water more quickly than any camping gas cooker on the market.

When in need of a cup of tea, with no wood fuel available as is often the case on Hebridean islands, the Kelly Kettle comes into its own. So efficient is its conduction of heat the process of making tea can be done with minimum fuel (such as dry sprigs of heather or small twigs) and with minimum time. I know of no other method of boiling water as quickly.

Sheltered flame

Furthermore, the fire heating the water within the kettle is sheltered from wind by the internal chimney shape of the kettle itself – a most useful feature on exposed wilderness Hebridean islands. Once the water is boiled the hot embers can be used to light a campfire which otherwise might be challenging in the wind or rain.

Avoiding dehydration

A 5% reduction in the body’s hydration levels can result in a 50% reduction in paddling performance. In summer months in Scotland an active sea kayaker should not only be drinking about two litres of water a day should also be eating well for dehydration is caused by the loss of water, sugar and salts combined.

Drinking little and often is the best method of avoiding dehydration and two or three litres is quite a few cuppas – not necessarily not a problem for the British who like to busy themselves drinking 60 bullion cups of tea a year.

It started with tea

Many other countries were as technologically advanced as Britain in the early nineteenth century yet the industrial revolution started here – why so?

The manning of industry’s factories required an urban density never achieved before elsewhere because plague and pestilence traditionally limited urban population growth. Accordingly, densely populated areas were often decimated by plague during population peaks. However, because the British started to boil their drinking water first to make new found Indian and Chinese teas, their water was purified killing all harmful bacteria and protozoa. Furthermore, as belt and braces, the tea leaf itself is a natural disinfectant.

Manpower

Empire links with India gave Britain tea and trade links with the West Indies gave the same people sugar soon making a virtuous circle of tea lovers, sugar addicts and shopkeepers. This holy trinity enabled urban populations to increase to unprecedented levels thus supplying manpower to those dark satanic mills.

Food for thought

So, the discovery of a rather modest drink created a virtuous circle of trade, cleanliness and addiction fuelling the industrial machine to define the modern world in which we live today. Worth pondering next time you sip a cup of afternoon Rosy Lee.

 

Campfire cooking – blueberry orange muffins

After a day catching lobster for the pot this simple campfire pudding almost cooks itself and, for entertainment value, these babies are bulletproof.

Don’t beat yourself up over the instant nature of this pudding — after all it’s not often one gets to bake cakes around the campfire.

Ingredients

Muffin mix
– Blueberries
– Four empty half orange skins

Method

  1. Squeeze four oranges, keep peeled halves and put juice aside for breakfast
  2. Fill one emptied orange half with blueberry muffin mix
  3. Cover the filled orange half with the empty half and wrap in three layers of foil
  4. Place on hot embers
  5. Turn aluminum balls every minute, baking may take 10 minutes
  6. Check one after 8 minutes, return to heat until firm at the centre

When these blueberry orange muffins are ready they will emerge from the campfire like victorious steamed puddings that have just been Tangoed.

Unwrap and eat with a spoon.

 

Chorizo, the fridgeless expedition wonder

Chorizo’s coming about as a provision well suited to extended expeditions is due to the preservation qualities of the spices within.

Chorizo is an intensely flavoured hard Spanish sausage made using pork and, richly seasoned with smoked paprika, garlic, and salt, it’s delicious raw.

Deep flavour

However, when cooked, the oils and paprika diffuse and intensify to create a deeply rich and salty flavour.

Every boat

Chorizo can be finely chopped into scrambled eggs for breakfast or sauté sliced with kale, samphire or seaweed as a dish with rice. Chorizo is the perfect addition to staple camp recipes such as arrabiata but can equally be enjoyed lightly fried until crisp to enhance soups, stews, salads and rice dishes. A couple of recipe suggestions using chorizo follow, one warming stew and the other a salad:

Tender summer squid with chorizo + aioli
– Squid + chorizo with rice, beetroot + apple
– Squid, chickpea + chorizo salad

Under wraps

Indeed every boat, however small, should stow a large chorizo under the deck cover. But keep chorizo dry and well wrapped – the rigours of kayak confinement will otherwise surely challenge it’s hard earned reputation for endurance.

Keep one onboard, sometimes there’s just no guarantee of fish.

Gastro campfire recpies – Baked cod with tomato, garlic + shoreline herbs

Baked fish, straight from the sea and steeped in herbs from its very own shoreline is simply a fine combination.

Serves 4 people.

Ingredients

—700g cod
—1 lemon, juiced and zested
—2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
—1/2 cup fresh parsley, wild thyme + diced ramsoms wild garlic
—1 pinch salt
—1 pinch black pepper
—1 can chopped tomatoes
—2 tbsp finely chopped onion
—1 drizzle balsamic glaze

Instructions

Campfire

—Prepare a campfire and fuel up until enough large hot embers are produced to heat a Dutch Oven

Fish

—Place the cod in a foil wrap
—Combine the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, wild Hebridean herbs, salt and pepper and pour over the fish
—Leave to marinate for 2 hours
—Pour the tomato + onion over the fish
—Bake the fish, covered for 20–30 minutes, until white through and flakes easily
—Pour on the balsamic glaze to taste

Sit back and bask in the accomplishment of eating ocean fresh fish.


Octane offers gastro wilderness expeditions and, employing Octane’s Eight* methods of sourcing wild food for the pot, we eat the world’s best food, ocean fresh**.

*Octane’s Eight is our philosophy. We believe our travelling guests, being closest to the world’s wildest fresh foods, might quite like to eat the world’s wildest fresh foods.
1. we line fish, 2. we lobster pot, 3. we spear fish, 4. we sea forage, 5. we land forage, 6. we stalk, 7. we seed the sea, 8. we seed land. Why is it campers and ramblers feel obliged to consume biltong, baked beans and instant coffee?

**The term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. AtOctane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught, prepared, cooked and eaten same-day.

See ocean fresh in practice with the post ‘Drive–by calamari’ – ocean fresh calamari caught, cooked and served in under an hour.

Gastro campfire recipes – Tender summer squid with chorizo + aioli

Squid can be slow cooked or flash-fried – anything otherwise risks its tenderness matching Bernie Ecclestone’s racing tyre compound stipulations.

This recipe is a delicious example of a slowly simmered Spanish-style paprika stew with new potatoes and tomatoes served with a garlic mayonnaise–type aioli.

No better a comfort food soaking up a cliff-top sunset after long days kayaking — the closest link this recipe has to toughness or endurance.

Stew ingredients

– 200g chorizo, skin removed
– 1 onion, finely chopped
Thyme sprigs
– 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
– 50ml white wine
– 450g cherry tomatoes
– 500g prepared squid, cut into calamari rings and whole tentacles
– 450g large new potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
– Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Aioli ingredients

– 1 garlic clove, crushed
– 4 tbsp good mayonnaise
– Squeeze of lemon juice, with extra to serve
– 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
– Bread
, to serve

Method

  1. Heat a large pan. Add chorizo and fry for 5 mins, spatula to break up
  2. If there’s more than 2 tbsp of oil in the pan, spoon out excess
  3. Add onion and thyme and soften
  4. Stir in the paprika, cook for 1 min and add the wine scraping the pan bottom
  5. Add tomatoes, cover with lid, simmer for 10 mins until tomatoes collapse
  6. Don’t season with salt, chorizo is salty enough
  7. Add squid, making sure it’s covered in juices, cover again + gently simmer 1 hr
  8. Add potatoes, cook for another 30 mins, adding a splash of water if it looks dry
  9. Mix the garlic, mayo and lemon juice and set aside. Sprinkle with a little paprika
  10. Test the squid; it should be so tender a spoon cuts through it
  11. Test the potatoes are cooked
  12. Stir in parsley and serve with a dollop of aioli, a squeeze of lemon and bread

Aioli

Aioli is a provencal mayonnaise like sauce made from garlic, olive oil, egg yolk and is served at room temperature. Its name aioli comes from provencal alh ‘garlic’ (< Latin allium) + òli ‘oil’ (< Latin oleum). The original recipe has no lemon juice, though many add it today. Some add mustard. Some regional variations such as Maltese allioli omit the egg.

Our allioli is a short cut version and, after a day’s paddling, it saves whisking.

Other squid and chorizo recipes:
– Squid + chorizo with rice, beetroot + apple
– Squid, chickpea + chorizo salad


Octane offers gastro wilderness expeditions and, employing Octane’s Eight* methods of sourcing wild food for the pot, we eat the world’s best food, ocean fresh**.

*Octane’s Eight is our philosophy. We believe our travelling guests, being closest to the world’s wildest fresh foods, might quite like to eat the world’s wildest fresh foods.
1. we line fish, 2. we lobster pot, 3. we spear fish, 4. we sea forage, 5. we land forage, 6. we stalk, 7. we seed the sea, 8. we seed the land. Why is it campers and ramblers feel obliged to consume biltong, baked beans and instant coffee?

**The term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught, prepared, cooked and eaten same-day.

See ocean fresh in practice with the post ‘Drive–by calamari’ – ocean fresh calamari caught, cooked and served in under an hour.

Ocean fresh*

The term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old.

When patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense.

At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught and eaten same-day.

Campfire baked fish in newspaper – tastes better than it reads

We arrive ill–prepared – Hebridean beaches are known for their absence of banana leaves yet we have brought no substitute foil to bake our catch. We make do with a well–thumbed copy of The Scotsman.

This method of cooking small whole fish keeps the flesh moist and traps all the flavour within the paper shell whilst allowing our catch to steep in the fresh herbs. Catching wild fish and baking it that same day on the shore from which it’s caught makes it, in my definition ocean fresh*.

Cocoon

Season each fish liberally all over with sea salt and stuff the fish cavity with slices of lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. Wrap the fish in about five sheets of paper, wetting each sheet first before applying the next layer.

Cook the parcels for about 15 minutes a side (longer for larger fish) in the hot embers of a campfire – the paper won’t burst into flames, but you may need smear some water on the paper once in a while if the edges smoke.

Fish parcel

The parcel will blacken and the fish skin should come away with the paper to reveal beautifully cooked and succulent white flesh within.

Thankfully, by this stage, The Scotsman might be entirely illegible.

 

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* the term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago your fish was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught and eaten same-day.