Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dungeness Crab Opener: An Incredible Windy Dive and Thai Curry

"This is the only situation I can think of where I am headed out with my buddies and hoping to come home with crabs"- Me

Well, Dungeness crab season finally opened after a prolonged quarantine (due to elevated levels of naturally occurring domoic acid, causing paralytic and amnesiac shellfish poisoning in humans). So my comrades Andrew, Evian, and I headed out to the coast for a little freediving in hopes of catching crustaceans! 

We knew the forecast was a bit windy, but when Evian's tent was flattened by gusts up to 40MPH, we were left shaking our heads in disapproval by the well-stoked fire.

But, spirits unbroken and with the promise of sweet crab for dinner, we braved the chill of the northern Pacific (and rapidly decreasing water clarity) to snag a few dungies!

Evian found the first one...

I grabbed the second one, and while Evian threw another on his board I added a fish to the mix. It was no limit, but we knew we would be eating well.

Andrew was late to the camp as he had a long road from work, but had the fire going by the time we returned (no small feat in such high-velocity gusts).

And we soon had our catch simmering away on the coals while we warmed our bones by the fire.

Beer battered fish sizzled as they reached the perfect golden-brown color and crispy texture and our Thai coconut curry came alive as we added our wild harvested black trumpet mushrooms and an incredible array of herbs and spices.

This was, hands-down, the best crab I have ever tasted! The coconut milk, lime leaf, chilies, and wild mushrooms worked in perfect harmony with the sweet flavors of our wild caught crab!
For some reason I completely forgot to get a pic of Andrew out diving with us among the Harbor Seals the next day! But take my word for it, he was there and all smiles!

Sometimes it is good to get out of the comfort of the house and away from the nice warm shower down the hall to rough it in the elements! So get out there and make some good wild food with your friends!

Keep the old ways alive!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hunting, Harvesting, and Having Fun in the Heather

I had the honor of giving an hour-long invited guest lecture at Sacramento's Freedive Shop the other day. The subject was a lifetime of foraging. Putting together the presentation was almost as fun as giving the talk and receiving such positive feedback! As I assembled my talk, my mom was going through old family photos and sending me scans of some great old memories of fishing, hunting, and gathering all the way back to the beginning!

Right after the presentation I got out for a late afternoon rabbit hunt. It was beautiful out and the hunting was quite productive.

The next day as my rabbit simmered away in the crockpot I headed out on the water in my canoe (aka. the aluminum monster) with a couple of pirates I know. Luckily, my buddy Captain Santi allowed Elizabeth come along as first mate.

The fish were not biting, but there was plenty of good rabbit in the pot back home. Paired with wild mustard greens and an oyster mushroom I came across while hunting, the stew and meat pies were incredible!

Foraging this morning with my friend Kerry was also quite productive...though the oyster mushrooms were few and far between.

Abalone slept well after her adventures in the field.

Kerry cooked up some wild raddish greens with ramen for dinner...

while I cooked up some of the wild radish greens and nettle greens in a rabbit curry...

but the past few nights have yielded some pretty good meals and snacks as well.

I made ceviche again from the last of the fish that Evian and I speared on the Channel Islands last weekend.

And my dad caught a nice steelhead with my brother the other day on the river! He smoked the fillets, as did our buddy Eric. I got to take a fillet of Eric's smoked steelhead home...such a nice snack when paired with crackers and green onion cream cheese!

Well, it's officially Spring Break and my brother and dad have been reporting good catches of Dungeness Crab on the coast (now that the season is finally open). I've been waiting for crab season for months, so I am hoping to get out there soon. Maybe I will have a new story for you soon!

Keep the old ways alive!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Catalina Island Spearfishing and Subsequent Fish Tacos

"Well I love her...but I love to fish! I spend all day out on this lake and hell is all I catch! But today she met me at the door, said I would have to choose, if I hit that fishin' hole today she'd be packin all her things and she'd be gone by noon. Well I'm gonna miss her when I get home! Right now I'm on this lake shore and I'm sittin in the sun! I'm sure it'll get me when I walk through that door tonight...yeah I'm gonna miss her, oh looky there I got a bite!" -Brad Paisley : I'm Gonna Miss Her

It had been nearly three years since the last time I had been out diving with my good buddy Evian. We figured it was high time we get back in the water in search of food and fun and so we took a ferry across the channel to Catalina Island located off of the  Southern California coast.

The visibility was superb! We had about 60 feet of clarity which is the best I have ever experienced in California waters!

We got some nice fish (which I forgot to photograph) and after a while I grabbed a nice lobster as well.

Juvenile fish with electric orange and blue coloration were abundant along the rocky bottom.

I also encountered a small octopus camouflaged in a crack.

And I got nice and close to a beautiful little stingray!

I kept seeing moray eels in the caves I was attempting to pull lobsters from. It always makes me hesitate as they are known to attack diver's hands in such scenarios! Unfortunately the only picture I got of this one was a bit blurry.

When we finally got around to cooking we decided to stay with our old tradition (from Gigi's suggestion) and cooked up a nice batch of fresh fish tacos.

Coupled with Evian's exquisite homemade guacamole and homemade salsa, these beer-battered fish tacos were absolutely incredible! Happy birthday Evian!