Adventure Cruise News

Adventure Cuisine - Chef Ralf Barthel shares recipes from the Poles

by Todd Smith

Chef Ralf Barthel shares recipes from Antarctica and Arctic cruises aboard the expedition ship Plancius. As you can imagine cooking aboard an expedition ship in remote polar regions has its challenges. Rough seas and remote locations means Chef Ralf has to plan months in advance. Guests are often surprised by the quality of the meals aboard the Plancius and Ortelius, operated by our partners at Oceanwide Expeditions. Just because you are cruising in Polar regions does mean you have to sacrifice quality. 

Arctic and Antarctic Cruises aboard Plancius

The Plancius is a 114-passenger small ship designed and built exclusively for polar cruises. A wide variety of cabins and ample space on five decks make the Plancius a great option for expedition cruises. The Plancius operates one of our most popular and affordable 11 day Antarctic Peninsula Cruises. 

Active travelers appreciate the Antarctic Basecamp cruise geared toward those interested in actively exploring away from the ship. Spends more time in fewer locations for more adventures and wildlife encounters. With included kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, camping, mountaineering and photography workshops. Return to the ship after a day of exploring and enjoy the delicious Patagonia Lamb Rack. 

In the norther polar Arctic regions the Plancius and Oretelius operate a number of Auroral Borealis themed cruises. The most popular Arctic cruise is the 10 day Around Spitsbergen which specializes in finding polar bears in their natural habitat. Enjoy the delicious Kamtchaka or Alaskan King Crab Risotto in its natural habitat. 

Antarctica Cruises

Chef Ralf Barthel aboard the Plancius

German born and trained Chef Barthel has worked over 15 years in various culinary management positions for prestigious 5 star international hotel & resort chains in Europe, America and Australia/New Zealand. After having the opportunity to work on an expedition ship visiting East Antarctica Chef Barthel worked for many years on various expedition ships in some of the remotest locations on the globe including the High Arctic, Antarctica, Russian Far East and south to north Odysseys of the Pacific and Atlantic. He was appointed Head Chef by Oceanwide Expeditions for their fully refurbished and newly launched flagship MV Plancius to provide a new level of service, comfort and experience in expedition cruising. At the new galley Chef Barthel and his international team of 6 is producing all catering requirements for 110 passengers and 45 crew members.

Oceanwide Expeditions has an ecological approach for doing business in the remote regions of our globe. In order to minimize the impact on the environment Chef Barthel is choosing as much local product as possible and also products with long shelf life to maximize ecological ways to provide world class food and beverages. The following two recipes are always favorites on his menu

"Due to the remoteness of our cruises and ports, there are also logistical challenges which businesses on shore are not familiar with.  I have to choose products that are plentiful available in those remote regions. The Patagonian Lamb is a top class product which is widely available at the end of the world – which is where our cruises are!"

Chef Ralf Barthel aboard Plancius

Kamtschatka or Alaskan King Crab Risotto Ingredients

The Risotto I chose for practical reasons as I am able to prepare and serve it in fairly high and rough seas. Obviously a risotto is "sticking" to the plate and it is very convenient to serve this dish while rocking and rolling in the "furious forties or screaming fifties.

(Serving size: 4 portions)

  • 750 ml Fish Stock
  • 1 large pinch Saffron
  • 25 g Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk Celery, finely chopped
  • 250 g Risotto Rice
  • 350 g Crab Meat, picked clean
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Parsley or Chervil, chopped, for garnish

Kamtschatka or Alaskan King Crab Risotto Preparation

  1. Heat the stock and add the saffron to soak.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a risotto pan, then add the onion and celery and cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the rice and cook for a minute, stirring to coat.
  3. Add the wine, increase the heat, and then let it bubble for a couple of minutes. Now reduce the heat to medium again and gradually add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, stirring well and only adding more liquid once the previous ladleful has been absorbed.
  4. About 15 minutes after the first ladleful of stock is added, add the crab meat and some salt and pepper. Once it is ready - and all or most of the stock has been added - taste and check the seasoning. Cover tightly; remove from the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with the parsley or chervil and serve straight from the pan. Serve with a tossed green salad.

Plancius Galley Crew

Patagonian Lamb Rack served on a medley of roasted Root vegetables and rosemary pan juices ingredients

The Lamb is always served on the last dinner of our journeys to the south. This recipe is easy to prepare even in the "Drake". If you look at the ingredients, the vegetables have a long shelf life and are readily available.

(Serving size: 4 portions) 

  • 2 (8 bones) French trimmed Lamb racks
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato - cut into quarters
  • 2 Large Carrots - cut into sticks
  • 2 Beetroot - cut into wedges
  • 2 Turnips - cut into triangles
  • 2 Red onions - cut into wedges
  • 1 Bunch Rosemary
  • 2 cl Sherry
  • Mire poix (carrots, onions, leeks, celery)
  • Oil, Salt, Pepper, Pinch Cumin & Sugar, 1 tsp Honey, 1tsp balsamic

Patagonian Lamb Rack Preparation

  1. Trim and clean the lamb racks - keep trimmings for pan juices.
  2. Brush lamb racks with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Sear lamb racks in hot pan and set aside.
  4. Add the trimmings and mire poix and roast them until brown, deglaze with the sherry and reduce, add water and simmer for 20 min.
  5. Mix all vegetables separately with oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the cumin and honey to the carrots and the balsamico and sugar to the red onions.
  6. Roast all vegetables separately at 180 Celsius until every vegetable is cooked. Cooking time varies due to the size and shape of the vegetables.
  7. When vegetables are cooked cool down immediately in order to avoid them getting soft.
  8. When it’s serving time cook the lamb racks for 12 - 14 min at 180 degrees Celsius or until the desired cooking degree is reached.
  9. Set lamb racks aside in a warm place to let them rest.
  10. Take the previously made lamb stock and 2 sprigs of rosemary and add to the pan and simmer until all aromas and drippings loosen up from the pan bottom and in the juices.
  11. Strain the pan juices through a fine sieve in a small pot and bring once more to a boil - adjust seasoning if necessary.
  12. Reheat the vegetables (you may mix them together apart from the beetroot).
  13. Arrange the large Sweet potato quarter across the plate (from 10 to 2 o´clock if you look at the plate as a clock).
  14. Place all the other vegetables in the middle.
  15. Cut the lamb racks in equal pieces of 2 bones each and set on the vegetables. Make sure the bones are clamped into each other for stability.
  16. Drizzle some pan juices around and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

You may substitute vegetables according to availability and season.

For the Risotto, the Alaskan or Kamchatka Crab can be easily substituted by their southern hemisphere family members, and vice versa the Patagonian lamb could also be substituted by lamb from the northern hemisphere.



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