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  • Writer's pictureshelenboyes

Backcountry Cuisine

I'd like to share one of my favorite moments/ recipes from our tour de South Island this past November while passing through Akaroa. During part of our adventure, Connor and I made the collaborative decision to trade in the fly rods for wetsuits and the freshwater for the salt so we booked accommodation near town and once having dropped off our luggage we began to do a bit of research regarding the marine life around the area. A farmer we had talked to before told us of a few places that might hold the odd pāua (abalone) or two and with that we were on our way.

Once having found a pathway leading down to the waters edge, weight belts were strapped on and I have to thank whoever came up with the idea of wetsuits because the water definitely didn't mimic that of the Bahamas. The visibility was around 1-3 meters and if you've never experienced swimming in Bull Kelp forests before, its both beautiful and unnerving all at once. They can grow over 100 ft long and create spectacular habitat for creatures such as Blue Moki and Butterfish. Because i'm still quite new to diving, when in the water Connor carries the speargun and I stay a few feet behind, scanning the bottom floor for creatures that could be picked up by hand. During the afternoon session Connor went out deeper but as for myself, I took a different route and swam closer to shore where the shallower water made for spotting pāua and crayfish much easier. I didn't have much luck with finding many crays but I began to see a few pāua here and there but according to the measuring stick they were all undersized. After about an hour or so I hopped out of the water and onto the rocks to take a little break and get some warmth back into my toes. Shockingly enough, as I wandered around the small pools left over from the high tides I came across a pāua that looked quite larger than the others seen that day. Once finding that it was in fact the legal size, I gently removed it from the rock pool and chucked it into the catch bag with a few others that were found just before.

Finally we were ready to take our winnings home for a delicious fresh seafood dinner and a shower of course. On our way back to our accommodation, we stopped by and gave a few pāua to the farmer who had pointed us in the right direction. After a few beers and the swapping of a couple tall tales, he brought out some home-kill porterhouse steaks for us to take home as well. With one more

quick stop at the store, it was time to start cooking.

The recipe for the night would be a steak salad with fresh fried seafood as an appetizer and the ingredients included the following:

1 head of romaine lettuce

2 red capsicum (bell peppers), cut into quarters

1 red onion, cut into quarters

6 halved button mushrooms

olive oil, for frying

sun dried tomatoes, diced

2 fresh pāua (abalone)

feta cheese

2 cups of water

1 cup of couscous

salt and pepper for tasting

For dressing:

1 tbs honey

1 tbs wholegrain mustard

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs white wine vinegar

Directions for cooking:

Step 1. Place veggies onto skewers in any order of your choosing.

Step 2. Heat your BBQ to a medium heat and once hot enough place both skewers and steaks on it, add salt and pepper. Grill both until they reach desired doneness (rare, medium-rare, well-done) and let steaks rest.

Step 3. Gut and clean your pāua, then cut into strips. For steps on how to efficiently remove the mollusk from its shell refer to this link for help:

Step 4. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat, add pāua and rotate pieces every few minutes. Cook for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and serve.

Step 5. Boil two cups of water in a medium size pot. Add one cup of couscous and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Step 6. Cut steak into 3cm pieces. Toss lettuce, grilled veggies, steak pieces and couscous in a large bowl, add feta cheese and drizzle dressing on top to serve.

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