As Alaskans edge toward the shortest day of the year and the holidays, thoughts of summertime fishing trips are a distant memory.
Supplement those memories with some fresh seafood -- a wintertime treat.
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods says fresh red king crab from Dutch Harbor are this week's seafood highlight.
"Even though the temps are lower and the snow is falling, fresh fish is still available," he says. "These jumbo red king crab legs will be available on Friday for a weekend treat. There is no better way to spend a weekend evening than elbow deep in melted butter enjoying the fresh red king crab."
Other fresh seafood options include:
• Fresh cod from Kodiak for $6.95 per pound.
• Fresh rockfish fillets ($9.95/pound) and sole fillets ($8.95/pound).
• Live shellfish, including mussels, Manila clams, Pacific and Alaska oysters.
John Jackson from New Sagaya Market says the crab options are among the best that Alaska has to offer right now.
"The last of the Dungeness crab from Alaska are in the live tanks at $8.95 per pound till next spring," he says. "Both the Alaskan king crab species have been full this year and the golden being at $15.95 is a good value. The red has been a lot more affordable this year than last, and the fill has been excellent."
Troublesome weather has limited his selection of Alaska oysters from Homer and Southeast, and it's a similar story with troll-caught king salmon from Southeast.
Those seeking out some tasty seafood can also stop by the Center Market at The Mall at Sears.
The weekly market at the Mall at Sears has several regular vendors, but Duane Clark, one of the market organizers, says two additional vendors are joining the group this week. The market is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.
"Kodiak shrimp and scallops join us. They are known around the area with the large yellow signs," Clark says. "Great Alaskan seafood. Also have a beekeeper from the Valley who makes cosmetics and other topical products from the wax." (Check out the recipe below for a meal plan with the scallops.)
Regular vendors expected at the market include Northern Lights Mushrooms, with a "harvest of winter fungus," Clark says. Clark says he will have his regular items, including grass-fed local beef, along with free-range chicken, duck and turkey.
Alaska Sprouts will be back with their regular items and a new microgreen -- Asian mustard. "It's spicy, mustardy, more like Chinese mustard than wasabi, and really fun," says S.J. Klein of Alaska Sprouts. The regular lineup includes locally grown romaine and butter lettuces; pea, daikon radish and sunflower shoots; bean, clover and onion sprouts; fresh tofu; a three-bean mix; and live basil plants.
Rempel Family farm will have 12 varieties of potatoes and three varieties of beets along with carrots, Snow Apple turnips, daikon radish, parsnips, green cabbage, stripetti squash and Sugar pumpkins.
A.D. Farm will have his regular items including fall produce and locally-raised pork products (chops, sausages and other items). Alex Davis says he will have 40-pound mixed pork boxes too.
Many Alaskans like to ship gifts to friends and family Outside. Southall, of 10th & M Seafoods, suggests making orders earlier rather than later.
"With Christmas being on a Tuesday this year, it really messes up shipping for all us," he says. "Our last day of shipping before Christmas is Thursday the 20th."
One of 10th & M's offerings this year is 5-pound boxes of jumbo red king crab for $189, which includes shipping anywhere in the Lower 48. "This year, crab pricing has come down since last year," he says.
More gift packs from 10th & M are available at www.10thandmseafoods.com.
Market Fresh will include more information about holiday gift options next week, however, it's important to remember shipping deadlines.
Thinking holidays II
Last year, Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop began preparing stollen, a traditional German Christmas bread, just a few weeks before the holiday season. The shop was overwhelmed with the response, and owner Janis Fleischman says "Alaskans snapped up the loaves so fast that many bakery fans weren't able to taste the complex blend of organic dried plums, currents, cranberries, raisins and cherries -- so this year the bakers began preparing the candied organic citrus and rum soaked fruit in early October."
Fire Island staff is baking twice the number of loaves they did last year. "You're buying something very special and unique because so much care was put into it," Fleischman says.
Seared scallops with warm Tuscan beans
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
11/2 pounds scallops
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6-ounce) package of fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt. Add scallops to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove scallops from pan; keep warm.
Add remaining oil and onion to pan; saute 2 minutes. Add pepper and garlic; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or until most of the liquid evaporates. Stir in broth and beans; cook 2 minutes. Add spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts.
Remove from heat; stir in basil.
Yield: 4 servings.
Source: "Mix and Match Low-Calorie Cookbook" by Cooking Light magazine (Oxmoor House, $24.95)
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.