Cooking up a storm out at sea

Updated: 2014-05-31 07:48

By Chen Hong (China Daily)

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In the eyes of Rolf Nylander, Wan Jinyu is like a magician when she is in the kitchen.

"My wife is so amazing that she knows how to make delicious food from very simple cooking materials," said the 61-year-old Swede.

During their 16-month voyage from Mexico to China on a sailboat that had no refrigeration, Wan figured out special ways to store the vegetables, meat and eggs and developed her own cooking methods to ensure a variety of food.

Before they set off from Mexico, Wan bought pork and cut it into strips. She put them into a mixture of seasonings including soy sauce, chicken essence, cayenne pepper, garlic, myrcia and salt.

Cooking up a storm out at sea

Six days later, she took them out and hung them on the boat to dry. The dried meat could store for about a month.

Later, she used a traditional recipe of dark plum and fresh orange peel to replace the cayenne pepper and myrcia. The dried meat had the smell of orange.

"Steaming the dried meat, then frying them with oil and cayenne pepper, could save it longer and make it taste better as snacks," Wan said.

Their sailboat carried a tank that contained 20 kilograms of liquefied gas.

Her dishes also proved to be one of the most popular foods among the residents of the isolated islands on the Pacific Ocean and sailors that the couple met, Wan said with a big smile.

Another invention of hers was banana thin pancakes, which were usually served for breakfast.

She stored items like tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, celery, onions and eggs at the bottom of the cabin, which was very close to the sea and much cooler than any other spot on the boat.

To make the eggs last longer, Wan turned them from one end to another every day so that they could be stored for a month even with daytime temperatures that hit about 29 C.

However, most of the vegetables except for the potatoes and onions could be saved for just seven to 10 days. The supply from the islands could not be guaranteed either because most of them lacked fresh water.

So when she found some carobs from one of the islands, she immediately boiled and dried them, then put them in soy sauce for a week, for frying with meat later.

Nylander lost 18 kg and Wan 14 kg from the tough trip.

"I never thought of cooking in such a small and churning kitchen, with an area of just 1 sq meter, but I made it," said Wan proudly.

(China Daily 05/31/2014 page5)