Food and Drink

How Alaska eats: Fillet better, grill better and make our readers’ favorite salmon recipes

Alaskans know how to eat. Find another place where people are better at DIY food (hunting it, fishing it, picking it; schlepping it on airplanes, ATVs, snowmachines, kayaks, in backpacks; butchering it, cleaning it, smoking it, freezing it, preserving it). You can't. To eat at our tables is to understand our culture. (Home cooking is another area where we excel.) This new newsletter is a place for all things Alaska food. Send your feedback, Alaska food ideas and questions!

Red salmon, cured with wild Alaska blueberries, makes for a striking twist on classic smoked salmon. (Photo by: Kim Sunée)

Newsletter #6: Salmon haves and have-nots

So: Did you get any fish? I've been hearing that question a lot the last couple weeks. It hasn't been a great year for kings or reds in a number of the road-accessible fisheries, but Alaskans don't give up easily, even if that means buying fish this year whole and processing in the kitchen.

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If that's your plan and you're looking to sharpen-up your fillet technique, we have a video guide to help you. Or say you've got a little fish and it feels so precious this year you want to grill it up just perfect. We've got a grilling technique video for that, too.

Or, say you hit the river on one of the few great days, and you just want to mix up your salmon recipe routine. Our readers are crazy for Kim Sunée's gorgeous blueberry-cured smoked salmon. They also keep going back to Maya Wilson's broiled salmon with birch syrup. Give those a try or check out this video of pan-seared salmon with pistachios and herbs.

Broiled salmon with birch syrup glaze (Maya Wilson / Alaska from Scratch)

There are also some of us, like Maya Wilson, who aren't so lucky. We're still craving salmon and still having a hard time getting it. (It changes how summer feels when the fishing's bad, doesn't it?) She's comforting herself with rockfish made into a lovely taco bowl with mango salsa. Maybe you should too?

Taco bowl made with rockfish (Maya Wilson / Alaska from Scratch)

Meanwhile, our market columnist Steve Edward has a list of the nine best buys at the farmers markets this weekend. (It is prime time to make and freeze some pesto, people.)

[Find more recipes and food news in the ADN Food and Drink section]

I just got back from a long weekend in Adak, where there was no testing Alaska recipes but I did tour a number of restaurants that closed their doors when the old naval base was shuttered in the '90s. Lots of old menus on the island, but only one restaurant remains, The Bluebird Cafe, with a dining room in a re-purposed military housing living room. (The pork adobo is pretty good.) There is plenty of halibut coming in on the boats this time of year. I brought some home and I'm thinking about Olympia for family dinner this Sunday. How about you?

Menu from a now defunct cafe inside a military recreation center on Adak. (Photo by: Julia O’Malley/ADN)

Please send me your Alaska food questions, discoveries and ideas or help me test recipes! Here's hoping your freezer gets full one way or another. See you next week.