A Small Adventure
New Delhi, India - October 18, 2013
New Delhi. The airport smells like curry and 30 year old dust. I walk down the stairs with my bag and turn right at customs. I ask where the metro is. Outside, across the causeway, underground. The air is hot and sticky. I pass the cafe where I bought water two years ago.
The metro is grey and modern. European. I sit back and rest. The plane ride felt like days. Twenty-one hours by the ticket. Does this take time difference into consideration? Across Greenland from Chicago and over Moscow and the Russian west. I watched the live update chart screen on the plane. Five hours from Anchorage to Chicago and a five hour layover. I chatted with a biochemistry professor on the plane. He wants me to visit him in New Delhi where he teaches. He came from Kolkata with nothing, he says. A stewardess named Nena tells me about shopping in New York and London and Paris, buying presents for her friends and family.
Suburbs race by under the metro. New Delhi Station is the destination. A train to Gaya, 15 hours east is the goal. I have a hiking backpack and a day pack, easy luggage. I try one tourist office and another. I am lead across Connaught place to each in turn. They all claim to be official but they are not. No matter, there are no trains available for five days and I need Gaya tomorrow. Haggle for price, negotiate for rickshaw, watch the dogs and rickshaw walas nap on the streets. Women walk by in flowing saris. Curious people stare. I sit up straight on the back of the bicycle rickshaw, my bags at my feet. Dark glasses cover my eyes. I feel colonial, strong. Is this good? I pass a 100 foot temple to Hanuman, built in his monkey likeness. The entrance passes between his feet.
A flight is bought, tomorrow afternoon, and I find myself resting in Hotel Jennifer's Inn. Veg pakora to eat. Sleep by 8:30pm.
Wide awake at 1:30am. My eyes sizzle. I don't know how much I have slept in the past few days. No more sleep now. Fun Bollywood music videos flash on the TV. My favorite is "Bullett Raj."
At the airport at 11am. Bag check. Customs. At my gate a familiar face appears. An old American friend from the semester in Bodhgaya.
"How are you?"
"The Rinpoche is on our flight."
We board the plane to Gaya.
October 9, 2013 - Kasilof, Alaska
Smoking salmon to jar in small tin cans is a good way to preserve, transport, and share the fish. I use a common "Little Chief" smoker for lack of a more serious smokehouse, and metal cans for the advantage of disposability over glass jars.
First, find salmon. Catch, purchase, or barter. In Alaska, you have a choice between five species. I prefer to smoke silver salmon, the coho, Oncorhynchus kisutch. It is abundant in late summer, the meat is firm and flavorful, and it has a nice color. I have smoked dog salmon, the chum, Oncorhynchus keta, also, and the meat tastes nice but it is softer and a lighter color that I don't like as much.
Gut your fish, clean it, and rinse it in cool water. Next, find someone to filet the fish for you. If you cannot, take a deep breath and prepare to filet your own fish. Have confidence, you can do it, it will be fine. Watch this video by Oles HakaiPass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmW4x3HlYZ8
1) Make sure your knife is ruthlessly sharp.
2) Try to keep the cutting motion through the fish as smooth as possible to limit hacking the meat. No forward-backward motion, only forward.
3) You can do it. It will be ugly at first, but that is ok because the fish is going to be cut into small pieces anyways and mistakes will not be apparent.
A few changes from the video. Cut off the tail, leave the belly fat, and don't cut out the belly bones (they dissolve in the canning process) Cut off all the fins, they take up space in the smoker.
Next, to brine. I prefer to cut the fish into strips for the brine and smoke, then cut them into can sized pieces later. Cut each filet into strips, about an inch and a half wide. I use a variation of Carey Starzinger's (email@example.com) brine recipe. I have found that adding wine does not do much to enhance the flavor. I also sometimes add one ts of Sriracha sauce. Feel free to experiment. Stir the brine and fish mixture every hour to prevent brine-free spots on the meat.
1/2 ts Garlic powder
2 c Soy sauce
1/2 ts Onion powder
1 c Water
1/2 ts Pepper
1 c Dry white wine
1/4 c Non-iodized salt
1/2 ts Tabasco sauce
Brine salmon chunks 8 or more hours, keeping refrigerated. Rinse thoroughly after brining. Pat dry with a paper towell and allow to air dry for at least one hour prior to smoking.
Once the fish has brined for eight hours, pat it dry and allow it to sun for an hour. I try to do this in the sun and wind. You want the meat to form a sort of dry shell. Place the meat in your smoker. I use hickory wood chips, but cedar works well too. Smoke for four hours, with under constant smoke.
Next, to can. The fish must be fit into cans, heated to 150 degrees, and sealed. Heat an oven to 450 degrees. Cut the salmon into can sized pieces. Don't stack them, place them in the can like pencils. Make sure your can sealer and your meat thermometer are ready. Find someone qualified to preset your can sealer, like a kind uncle. As soon as the salmon hits 150 degrees, take them out one at a time and seal the cans. I use grilling tongs to move the cans. Crank the handle until the can is fully sealed. This removes air from the can and creates a vacuum.
Add one inch of water to the bottom of your pressure cooker and put on a stove on high. Stack the cans inside, offset from each other, like bricks. Place the lid on the cooker and use the knobs to seal it evenly. Wait until steam begins to escape through the cock, then place the 15lb weight. Bring the pressure up to 15lbs for 90 minutes. Monitor the pressure very carefully. The cock should whistle intermittently. After 90 minutes, turn off heat and wait for the pressure gage to drop to zero. Remove the cans, allow them to cool, label them, then share them with people you love.
August 13, 2013
This is the hundredth post on this blog. I want to use this small landmark to reflect on what this outlet has been and what it can be in the future. "No Parking" started as a documentation of fishing, field schools, and international travel to keep people I love informed of my life through words and pictures. I feel like it as changed as my personality has changed, and grown with me as I have grown. When I began posting, I was full of fear and awe. I feel that slowly these have been replaced with force and love. I am, like everyone, a work in progress, and I have a lot of work to do.
What then is the future of "No Parking"? I will use this place to continue to document and reflect. I am quite excited about the future.
I want to share four of my favorite pictures from my first international travel experience. In October 2008, I went alone to Europe, lost all of my belongings, made a friend, and came home a little bit bigger of a person.
The Roman Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The Hague, The Netherlands
Train ride, Amsterdam, The Netherlands