Suggestions for Gourmet Backpacking Food?
It just occured to me that I should ask Chowhounders their foodie opinion on backpacking food. I"m going to the Sierras for 4 nights and 5 days. The thought of freeze dried whatever is sounding awful. I'm thinking of foods I already like that are light and packable like Indian sag paneer and Kind bars. Anyone have any suggestions?
Bring a few pieces of frozen meat. Heavy, yes, but it can provide some refrigeration in a small pack and be used up early on the trip - make what you like out of it, be it pork chicken, or beef (or whatever).
Ramen noodles, although not 'gourmet' makes for a nice change of pace. Can even boil in 'clean' stream water, drain and fry with flavor packet.
Fresh eggs will last 4-5 days with out refrigeration. Omelettes to egg foo young come to mind (although not breaking them would seem the true challenge).
Rehydrated food may sound gross now, but no matter how much of a chowhound you are, sodium-heavy pre-packaged food will taste like the food of the gods when you've just climbed a few thousand feet with 40 pounds on your back. Seriously, Knorr never tasted so good. If anything, it's not salty enough.
For a 1-2 night trip, we carry up pre-packaged Indian food, as you mention - we like the Punjab Choley from Trader Joe's. It's a little heavy to carry compared to dehydrated food, but it's almost unimaginably satisfying, spicy and salty with a heavy dose of protein. Trader Joe's is actually a backpacking food wonderland, with plenty of dehydrated fruit, fruit bars, energy bars, nuts, and trail mix on offer.
We carry up cous cous, since it's light and dehydrated and doesn't require boiling (you just pour boiling water over it, cover, and it steams). Whole wheat cous cous is great because it has more protein than the regular kind. We also pack in salami and cheese for the first day - it's heavy and perishable, but you eat it right away.
A 4-5 day hike requires a lot of food - I'd stick to light, high-calorie food, as dehydrated or concentrated as possible. We like dehydrated bananas, figs (high energy), dates, blueberries, and lychees. (Dehydrated lychees are also good boiled in water as a sort of fruit tea.) Carry a balance of sweet and salty snacks. For sit-down meals, dehydrated cous cous or vermicelli and pre-packaged powdered sauces are good. A little bottle of olive oil goes a long way, as do a few cloves of raw garlic. Make sure you pack extra salt and garlic salt.
One super-gourmet thing that you can easily pack in is top-quality whole leaf green tea. It's spectacular when brewed with freshly-pumped Sierra mountain water. Actually, it's worth doing a whole backpacking trip just for that.