Here on Palmyra Atoll, conservation is top priority. Anything growing or breathing that did not originate here is slated for 'eradication'...that includes a dense rat population that feels entitled to steal food from the local crabs as well as coconut trees that proliferate copiously, grabbing space-nutrients-sunlight from the dwindling native flora.
Still, at the moment, coconuts are the only local growing thing edible to humans so we do take advantage. And we are allowed to catch fish for our own table in waters that are not commercially fishable--it just so happens we are lucky enough to find ono and tuna close by. With only six of us here as permanent residents for a four-month rotation, we could feasibly live off local goods were we stranded for a time. Which we are, actually.
Last week a group of visiting TNC board members greeted the morning of their return to society with the news our airplane was broken down and may take several days, even weeks to repair.
They all had board meetings and such to get to, so the news was not as welcome as one might think ("You are stuck in Paradise on a tropical island with a fridge full of Corona and plenty of limes for an extra two weeks...") and a little panic ensued where state senators were called, the FAA was lobbied and all kinds of airlines were investigated. Problem i s the runway here is made of soft ground coral and jets can't land, neither do we have landing lights so everything must take place during daytime hours.
To make a long story short, twelve lovely folks were stuck with us here on the atoll for 10 days instead of five...and they had the time of their lives. They got over the initial panic that they were not going to make it back to work on time. I mean, LOOK at the place! And, as chef, working with fellow kitchen wench Suzanne, we're not exactly chopped liver...they were well fed happy campers, very literally.
We gave them a fond farewell on Thursday. However, we the 'permanent six ' continue here without any planage for several weeks. We will definitely run out of salad, but will continue to be rich in coconuts and fish.
Grilled Ono Fillets with Ginger Lime Coconut Sauce
2 pounds ono fillets or other grillworthy fish
1/2 cup plus one tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 cup dry to medium dry white wine
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder or bouillon
1 can coconut milk (unsweetened)
zest plus juice of one lime
1 bunch fresh green herbs such as Italian parsley, chives or cilantro
Dry the fish fillets and coat them generously with 1/2 cup olive oil and salt and pepper. Allow them to marinate while you start the sauce.
Over medium heat in a saucepan, add the tablespoon of olive oil along with the ginger, garlic and shallots, salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes to bring out the flavor, then add the white wine and vegetable stock. Boil the mixture down to a glaze, then add the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the lime zest and juice, turn off the heat and allow the sauce to sit while grilling the fish.
Heat the grill to high, mark the fish on both sides and continue to cook on low to medium heat until the fish is barely done in the center. Strain the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Place the warm sauce on a platter and place the grilled fish on top. Sprinkle with chopped herbs.