Island kitchen suits no-limits cooking style of a fisherman
Ask commercial fisherman Bill “Bubba” Cochrane what he likes to prepare for dinner, and his answer is immediate.
“Fish,” he said without hesitation. “And also barbecue, brisket, ribs, pork chops, roasts — almost anything.”
Cochrane also likes coming up with new ideas for old favorites, especially fresh vegetables, such as the windfall of okra he recently received from the garden of fiancée Clarissa Brown’s father in Katy.
Such no-limits cooking requires a completely functional kitchen, of course, and the culinary hub of Cochrane’s Teichman Road home on Galveston Island is designed to perform. If an item or appliance isn’t a “keeper,’ it hasn’t been included in his spacious steel, stone and chrome kichen overlooking Offatts Bayou.
“I did not want a beach house kitchen with starfish and sand dollars,” Cochrane said. “I live here full time, year-round, and I wanted a real kitchen in which I could cook great food and build memories with friends and family.”
Working with local architect David Mullican, Cochrane soon had a plan to accommodate not only his cooking style, but also the demands of sons Bronson, 7, and Conner, 13, plus occasional visits by his college student daughter, Chelsea, 21.
Completed in 2015, the home was designed so that the combined kitchen and family area opens out southward toward the swimming pool, bayou, boats and docks where his sons frequently head to land their own catches. Carefully positioned window walls topped with transoms capture maximum sky and air, and 12-foot ceilings — teamed with carefully planned architectural details for a tone-on-tone interplay of light and shadow — create a space that’s almost sculptural in and of itself.
A custom-crafted “wrap” of industrial-strength stainless steel sheaths the outflow conduit for a vent hood hovers above a massive Thermador six-burner-plus-griddle range top, which has been set into a 5-by-7-foot Caesarstone quartzite countertop with soft gray veining. In addition to the range top and hood, other Thermador appliances include a large, double-door refrigerator and freezer, convection and microwave ovens, plus a warming drawer.
“I am a big fan of the Thermador line,” Cochrane said. “I first saw it at a friend’s house and fell in love immediately. It looks good, cooks and cools good, and is extremely reliable.”
The one exception is an “under the counter” drawer-style beverage cooler by Marvel. The cooler is in the butler’s pantry area that’s also set up to serve as a breakfast and coffee bar, allowing easy access to drinks and reduces “beverage runs” on the main refrigerator.
The kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinetry is complemented by a bas-relief backsplash in gray and white Walker Zanger tile. In the dining area, chrome and gray vinyl chairs provide family-friendly seating around a metal Perry Luxe dining table that boasts an automotive-grade finish.
“Because it is welded together all in one piece and weighs more than 500 pounds, we had to remove an exterior door just to get it into the house,” Cochrane said.
Wide-plank, weathered gray flooring sweeps through the kitchen, dining and adjacent family room, where it is laid in a circular, wagon-wheel pattern that seemingly embraces an aqua leather semicircular couch, the gray leather recliner that Cochrane refers to as his “man chair,” and a low table of polished fossilized stone inlaid with clam shells. An adjacent console-style cabinet is faced in shagreen, a material popularized in the Art Deco era and originally made from the skin of sharks, rays or dogfish.
Not surprisingly, Cochrane’s home is a favorite hangout for his sons and their friends, among whom he is known for great cooking and especially his hearty breakfasts.
“I’ve had other kids’ moms ask me why my pancakes are so popular,” he said. “It’s because I make them from scratch with real eggs and milk, and my secret ingredient is a dash of syrup stirred into the batter just before cooking.”
Fishing has been a part of Bubba Cochrane’s life since childhood, and he considers himself fortunate to be able to make it his livelihood. With his 51-foot commercial fishing boat and experienced crew of four, he can provide area fish markets and restaurants with as many as 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of fish per trip out to sea. Here’s how he likes to cook some of his typical catch.
Bubba’s Red Snapper with Cabbage and Okra
Servings: 4 to 6, depending on size of fish
1 (2 to 3 pounds) fresh red snapper, cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Fresh dill and rosemary sprigs
1 fresh lemon
2 cloves garlic
1 pound fresh okra, whole pods, rinsed and prepared for cooking
1 small head of fresh green cabbage, cut in half, rinsed and prepared for cooking
Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut three or four slits in each side of the snapper, then rub entire fish generously with olive oil. Season fish with salt, pepper and seasoned salt.
Cut lemon into 6 to 8 thin slices and gently insert slices into the slits that have been cut into the sides of the fish.
Stuff rosemary, dill and garlic into the belly cavity of the fish. Place prepared fish on a baking pan lined with foil.
With a sharp knife, split the okra length-wise, then cut in half. Cut cabbage halves into several half-inch thick slices. Drizzle both the cabbage and the okra with olive oil and sprinkle with the same seasonings used on the fish.
Arrange okra and cabbage on pan around the outside of the fish, and bake all at 450 F for 30 to 40 minutes.