Grilled codling with pistachio pesto

It’s always handy to have a pot of sauce in readiness for any fish caught and I choose to keep pistachio pesto – an expeditioner’s green–sauced flavour wonder punch.

Others include horseradish and aioli but this is perhaps my favourite.


– 1c pistachios, shelled
– 1c fresh basil
– 1/4c cilantro
– 2 garlic cloves
– zest of 1 lemon
– 3T grated parmesan cheese
– 1/4-1/2c olive oil
salt to taste

codling steaks
olive oil
salt and pepper
lemon wedges

Method for pesto

– Finely chop all the ingredients and add to a pestle, using just 1/4c olive oil to start
– Mortar to blend and drizzle olive oil until desired consistency is achieved
– Store in an airtight container in cool place until ready to serve

Method for codling

– Rub codling steaks with olive oil, and season both sides with salt and pepper
– Grill on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and repeat*
– Top with Pistachio Pesto and serve over mashed potatoes or rice with lemon wedges

*Cook until there is nice color on the steaks and the fish is just about cooked through (opaque), being careful not to overcook and dry out. The fish should flake easily with a fork. The time it takes for your fish to cook will depend on the thickness of your steaks and the temperature of your grill

Octane offers gastro wilderness expeditions – 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 deer stalk, 7) we seed the sea, 8) we seed the land. 

**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 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 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.

Flaming banana banock

Sautéd sizzling banana in butter, maple syrup and cinnamon stacked over a pile of banock. Served with whiskey aflame

And, if that’s not enough dramatics, stand on the cliff-top with a set of bagpipes and play Mull of Kintyre waving your sporren to America.

A banana too far

Extra ripe bananas in a sea kayak’s stowage compartment are unwelcome. However, this recipe is one of my favourite ways to utilise them whilst making breakfasts noteworthy.

Banana state

There are two methods in producing this recipe and both are dependant upon the state of your banana as follows: If the banana is mushy it can be added to the pancake mix for whiskey flaming maple syrup over banana pancakes and, if the banana is in a respectable state, it can be dice-cubed for flaming whiskey sauté bananas in syrup over pancakes. 

For the pancakes

– 1 cup flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 2 eggs
– 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
– 2 tablespoons melted butter
– 1 ripe banana, mashed / diced

For the syrup

– 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 3 tablespoons Whisky

To make banana pancakes

– Heat a non-stick* griddle or skillet over medium heat
– In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter (and mashed banana). Whisk until the batter is combined
– Using a cup for consistently sized cakes, scoop batter into preheated pan
– Flip the pancake when the bottom is golden and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through. If your cakes brown before being cooked through, turn your heat down a notch. Repeat with remaining pancakes
– Serve the pancakes with whisky syrup (instructions below)

To make syrup

To a small saucepan over medium heat, add the syrup, butter, and cinnamon. When the butter is melted and the syrup begins to bubble, add the whisky. Simmer steadily for 60 seconds to allow the alcohol to cook off. Remove from heat and serve the hot, dark, buttery, boozy sauce poured over a giant stack of banana pancakes – a little piece of banach banana breakfast heaven.

*Note: I use a non-stick skillet for pancakes and I do not grease the pan with butter or oil, because I have found that I get prettier, more evenly-coloured pancakes when I do not grease the pan. However, if you are using a griddle or skillet that is not non-stick, I recommend greasing the pan for easier flipping

All in a roe – 5 campfire supper ingredients when the fish aren’t biting

Spaghetti with bottarga, pistachio and lemon zest is perhaps the biggest flavoured of all quick-cook suppers using dry packed ingredients.

Bottarga is an Italian cooking staple never cooked, being used instead very simply, as a topping. Think of it as being not unlike parmesan in character: strong, savoury and also fishy and can be used as a final touch to enhance many simple foods, such as scrambled eggs or risottos. Often mixed to a paste with olive oil it is used on bruschetta as a paste.

You say bottarga

There are many variations of the name – botargo, buttariga, boutargue, poutargue – but all are recognisable as stemming from the same Arabic root, bitarikh which is an ancient, sunbaked ingredient belonging to the Mediterranean coastline.

I say botargo

With Phoenician roots 3,000 years ago, it is now found in north African, Greek and Provençal food, but is most often associated with Italian cooking, particularly that of Sardinia.


However you choose to call it, this rich amber-coloured mouthwateringly savoury ingredient is also wonderful served in thin carpaccio–like slices drizzled with olive oil as an appetiser or grated over a simple pasta with a tomato based sauce. Personally I prefer bottarga of mullet as it has a more delicate taste, but that of tuna is fuller–flavoured and both are ‘Sardinian gold’.

Either way this recipe can be completed in 8–12 mins, the time it takes to boil the pasta. Recipe serves two.


– 200g of spaghetti (and salt to cook)
– 100g of good quality bottarga
– 50g of crushed pistachios
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 a lemon, juiced and peeled in thin strips (no pith)


– Cook spaghetti in salted water 8–12 mins
– Grate the bottarga in a bowl and season with olive oil, pistachios, lemon peel and lemon juice (mix with sufficient quantity of oil to dress pasta)
– Drain spaghetti al dente
– Sauté spaghetti in the pan with the mixture of pistachios and bottarga
– Serve and garnish with another sprinkling of pistachio

To serve

Sit back, soak up a shoreline sunset and relax in the knowledge you are joining a Phoenician fisherman’s tradition of 3,000 years — the bottarga brings deep umami flavour, the pistachio and pasta are packed with energy and all pack dry in a rucksack — a perfect food to eat whilst contemplating when the fish may bite.


Hebridean pistachio financiers

A little slice of pinstriped luxury from the less than formal Hebridean islands.

The financier cake is said to derive its name from its popularity in the Paris Stock Exchange district in the C19 as it could easily be kept in a pocket during work without damage.

Others say its because the rectangular shape resembes a bar of gold and, whichever story is true, this light and moist cake is as rich as the name suggests and, like a financier on his way to work, I pocket one before the day ahead.

Pocket rocket

As with financiers among workers of the exchange, these Dutch Oven baked equivalents are pocket sized gold bars of sweet energy bullion — they stack in tupperware, store below deck in a kayak and and, due to their modular shape, waste no space in a mountain rucksack. One might not say the same of a Madeleine for example.


With the cake’s defining ingredients being almond flourpistachios and brown butter lightened with whipped egg whites — one might ask from where does the recipe owe its Hebridean provenance?

The delicate layer of rich-emerald coloured sea-lettuce specs hint at the cake’s shoreline credentials and gives the cake its unique look and healthy mineral content.


Build a fire to create a good quantity of embers. This process will require a good wood fuel supply and a minimum of an hour and a half. This being the time required for the creation of a settled cake mix and baking time for the golden cake bullion.


12 cup flour, plus more for pans
12 cup finely ground pistachios

– 12 cup finely chopped pistachios
– 2 tbsp. finely ground almonds
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, more for pans
12 cup sugar
12 cup light brown sugar
– 4 egg whites
– 1 tsp. Dry flaked sea lettuce / dulce
12 tsp. salt

Cooking instructions

Grease and flour financier moulds
– Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat; cook, without stirring, until butter begins to brown, about 5 mins (making beurre noisette or hazelnut butter*). Pour through a fine strainer; cool
– Whisk sugars, salt and egg whites in a bowl until smooth
– Add flour, ground pistachios, almonds and baking powder; stir until combined. Add browned butter; stir until smooth
– Put mixture in a cool place for 1 hour
– Heat Dutch Oven to 200 °C / 390 °F
– Pour batter into moulds; sprinkle with chopped pistachios and seaweed flakes
– Bake for 15–20 mins (depending on size) until golden brown

Method for beurre noisette: Beurre noisette (or hazelnut butter) is simply butter cooked until golden brown, which gives off a delicious nutty aroma. The process is simple: Place butter slices in a saucepan and let it melt. Continue cooking until the butter becomes golden brown. The butter is ready when lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and stop the cooking process by pouring the nutty butter into a cold bowl. Pour through a fine strainer for consistency

Chef’s perk

In keeping with the wise and age-old traditions of the Paris Stock Exchange, cook’s prerogative is to pocket a couple of bars for those long working hours ahead!

Barter value

These little bullion bars can be stacked, with interleaving greased paper, in Tupperware and dry-bagged for stowage in a sea kayak — I don’t haggle hard but current exchange rate is a two pound sea trout for two bars!

A paddler’s pancake panacea

The cake that cooks in a pan – pancakes were made for campfire cooking and their simplicity in no way detracts from their taste, especially if you remembered maple syrup.

Making a pancake mix is straightforward but, for whatever reason, protocol dictates one should mix the milk and eggs in a separate bowl and then fold into the flour and baking powder.

– 1/2 cup of self-raising flour
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– pinch of salt
– 2 eggs
– 2/3 cup of milk (UHT for kayakers)
Sugar and / or maple syrup

Cast iron griddle

A cast iron griddle is a good cooking surface to ensure pancakes are made thin — the beat retaining density spreads the temperature evenly which is crucial working a small camping gas cooker.

The item is very heavy for a kayak expedition but, if pancakes each morning Are on the cards, it’s worth the sacrifice.

Dutch oven lid

If travelling with a Dutch Oven, the lid can be used as a frying surface when placed upside down in embers. The downside to using a Dutch Oven lid for pancakes is the lid is slightly concave.

When the embers are hot, place the griddle (or upside down dutch oven lid) on the embers and pour on a little oil. When hot, test a drop of mixture for heat. Pour on the pancake batter mix, expecting the first pancake not to turn out the best.

A pancake requires turning when the bubbles on the topside burst. Never before!


Frittering time

Someone once told me time should never be killed so I’m wondering whether instead it’s fine to fritter? So long as apples are involved I’m told.

Either way, I believe cooking this quick and easy recipe for apple fritters is time well spent.

Sugar, fruit, dough and syrup after an energetic, if tiring, day spearfishing is a reward much anticipated.


– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 large egg
– 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
– 4 apples
Vegetable oil, for frying
– Canadian maple syrup + icing sugar


– whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar + salt
– in a separate bowl, whisk the egg + buttermilk
– whisk together the two mixtures
– slice apples into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, discard centre core (keep slices in water to prevent discoloration)
– add 3 inches of oil over medium heat
– prepare a surface with paper towels
– when the oil reaches heat, dipping each apple slice in batter, carefully lower rings into the oil
– flip the apple slices occasionally to brown on all sides
– transfer fritters onto the paper towel

To serve

Serve immediately with Canadian maple syrup + a dusting of icing sugar. Alternatively the fritters can be coated in cinnamon and sugar.


Ensure the temperature of the oil is between 325 and 360. However, if no thermometer is available check the oil is ready for frying by inserting a dry wooden spoon into the oil — if it is up to temperature bubbles will form around it. Otherwise place one drop of batter to the pan, if it sizzles the oil is up to temperature.

It’s important to shake off as much excess batter as possible to ensure the apple rings fry quickly. Maintain the oil temperature to avoid soggy fritters, do not overcrowd as this will lower the temperature. Do not let oil smoke.

Campfire cooking – blueberry pancakes

Pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries, on a wilderness beach with a hot cup of fresh coffee first thing.

A breakfast hard to beat.


– 3 cups whole-wheat flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– ¾ tsp cinnamon
– 6 tsp vegetable oil
– 3 fresh eggs (or 3 tbsp egg powder)
– 3 cups milk, made from powder
– handful of blueberries


  1. Before setting out, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and egg powder and store in a plastic bag.
  2. When ready to make pancakes, combine the mix with the oil
  3. Add milk and stir until mixture is a thick soup like consistency
  4. Heat a griddle with oil, test heat with a drop of water
  5. Spoon circles of the mix onto the griddle, fry on one side until bubbles form
  6. Flip pancakes and cook for about half the time on the second side
  7. Add berries to the mix as an optional extra and top with maple syrup

To serve

Sieve icing sugar over pancakes