Tuesday 31 July 2012

Day 14: Mince Balls and Gravy on the day that the fish did bite

There is a song called Listen to the Ocean, where three of the lines go


The heat of the sun when the fish won't bite,

These are the things that remind me of

The day you sailed out of sight


Today, however, will go down in the history of this voyage as the day that the fish did bite. No question about that.

It was in the early afternoon, that part of the day just after lunch, when ideally one would take your Sunday afternoon nap. Like both Renier and I, for example. Dawid was on watch, when suddenly our slumbers were interrupted by his anxious shouts. We ran topsides to see what was happening. We found him standing on the aft deck, pointing at the fishing rod, unable to speak for excitement.

The rod was pointing straight at the water some distance behind the boat and was only held on by the little string that tied it to the railing, with the reel shrieking away. Renier promptly sent me to the helm to get the sail furled away and the engines into astern to get into fighting the fish. By this time, which was only seconds later, almost half of the line had stripped off the reel. He applied some tension with his glove, but of no avail. He then applied the brake, on which the 35 kg breaking strain line promptly snapped with a loud crack.

Renier stood there dumbfounded. Dawid was still trying to get his speech back. I had no words. I think the fish never knew it was hooked. We never even saw the fish. And thus ended our fishing for the day, all fifteen odd seconds of it. Not soon to be forgotten.

We are now less than one day away from St Helena island and are looking forward to the visit. This time around we shall take a tour of the island, especially the war graves. And, of course, have a beer. I have almost forgotten what beer tastes like.

Today was my turn again at galley duty. I made beef mince balls, gravy, smash and caramel butternut with cinnamon. A simple but grateful meal. The mince balls take some work, the rest is easy.

Mince Balls and Gravy


400g beef mince

1 onion, grated

½ hot chili, finely chopped

¼ sweet pepper, grated

1 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic

¾ cup oats

2 eggs

Some soy sauce

Some freshly ground pepper

Some cornflour

1 dessert spoon or 1 cube beef stock

1 cup water for the beef stock

Some cooking oil


Mix all the ingredients, except the beef stock, cornflour and water, thoroughly. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water at a time until it can be moulded into balls. Add oats if the mixture is too runny.

Make small balls of the mince mixture, roll them in the cornflour, then fry them in the oil. I use two wet dessert spoons to do this, it keeps my hands clean. Remove the fried ones from the oil and keep to one side. When all the balls are done, add all of them back to the frying pan, add the stock and water mix and simmer the meatballs for five minutes. If the dish gets too dry, add water. There is supposed to be a lot of gravy. The gravy will thicken automatically from the leftover cornflour in the frying pan.

I served this with smash, being the easiest accompanying dish available on board.

Caramel Butternut

This one is a no-brainer. Skin the butternut using a sharp potato peeler. Cut into thumb size cubes. Put these into a saucepan with about one finger depth of water. Add a royal helping of sugar on top and some cinnamon sticks. Add a little bit of salt to taste. Put the lid on and boil medium to slow until the water has boiled away and the sugar has caramelised. Dish up.

This one goes well with the meat balls or any other home cooked dish.

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