By Andrew Siebert
Executive Chef of the Carolina
Mother nature was especially cruel to the Caribbean in 2017, pummelling the area with high category hurricanes and causing catastrophic damage. The recovery has been slow in some areas. The Carolina’s home marina in West Palm Beach, FL, usually much emptier at this time, is still packed with yachts unable to travel.
We started our season a little late this year. We usually leave Florida mid-January, but as many of the marinas and areas we frequent were badly damaged by the storms, we just got underway at the end of February.
St. Thomas usually serves as a provisioning stop for us as well as a place to greet guests and a home base from which to start our journeys around the Virgin Islands. The storm aftermath created a bit of a predicament for us. The island was hit hard by Hurricane Irma in September and before we left, I received word that our usual provision providers on the island are still closed because of damage.
I called around to the grocery and yacht provisioning stores l know. Some are closed and the ones that aren’t have limited items. They want and need the business so with enough time, they assured me they would be able to get what I need.
It takes five days to do the run down to the island from West Palm Beach. It’s become known as a hub for yachts and cruise ships. Tourism photos often show a cruise liner at port in St. Thomas and when they are, vendors line the streets to sell souvenirs, jewelry and duty-free electronics. It’s really neat to see the infusion into the local economy.
Having learned some new tricks during the offseason, I was eager to show off my new skills on this guest run. While I was still on vacation (well, really taking care of my wife and newborn daughter if that counts), I ordered a tank of liquid nitrogen to the boat.
I arrived late, and we started our journey early the next morning — around 4 am — so I didn’t have a chance to check all the packages waiting for me in the galley before departure. After excitedly opening the box containing the liquid nitrogen, I found it to be empty. You could say I was a little upset and definitely disappointed.
I asked my connection in St. Thomas if he was able to find some. After searching for three days, he wasn’t able to locate liquid nitrogen anywhere. In light of the circumstances, I’m not surprised. Though I have to say, in this business, the words “can’t get” are usually not something we hear.
I’ll keep you posted on the recovery effort and provisioning in St. Thomas and the rest of the Virgin Islands. For now, here’s a jambalaya recipe that is easy to make and works well with whatever you might have on hand.
- 2T vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1T garlic, minced
- 1t of crushed red pepper
- 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 oz tomato paste
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- Handful or two of green beans, steamed
- 1 lb spicy chorizo sausage
- 1 lb chicken breast cubed
- 1 lb peeled large shrimp
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan.
- Add onions, peppers, garlic and sauté until caramelized. Add red pepper and thyme, bay leaf and all tomatoes. Let simmer.
- I like to cook all the meat in a separate frying pan then add to the sauce with the juice from pan as well. Make sure to season chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper. I cook the sausage first and use the oil left in the pan to cook the rest. Simmer both mixtures together while cooking your rice.
- Add steamed green beans to the jambalaya mixture.
- Salt and pepper to taste.