When you think about food in the 49th state, you might think about wild game, fresh fish, traditional Alaska Native favorites or tundra staples like Sailor Boy pilot bread. But for those living with food allergies, blood-sugar issues and other conditions, Alaska culinary culture can be hard to stomach. Ingredients like milk or wheat flour can leave many of us (myself included) scrambling for an epi-pen or inhaler.
So, in a quest to cater to more sensitive palates, I took to the kitchen in my tiny Downtown Anchorage apartment, hoping to work some gastronomical magic and recreate some of Alaska's favorite foods. Here are my takes on three local staples, all free of meat, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, corn, peanuts, tree nuts and refined sugar. While they may not taste too much like the originals, they're fun, original and delicious ways for everyone to enjoy some of the Last Frontier's most recognizable fare.
Mock Akutaq (also known as Eskimo Ice Cream)
1 cup coconut or palm shortening (non-hydrogenated)
2/3 cup xylitol
2 pieces of dried kombu kelp
1/2 cup of water
2 cups of mixed berries
In a large mixing bowl, drop in about 1 cup of non-hydrogenated palm (or coconut) shortening.
In a small saucepan, boil together the water, dried kombu kelp and xylitol for 5 minutes. Remove kelp from liquid and allow to cool completely.
With a balloon whisk (electric or hand crank works best) vigorously blend together the shortening and cooled liquid until well emulsified. You should end up with mixture that behaves similar to whipped cream.
Fold in mixed berries of your choice. Garnish with a couple of mint leaves or spruce tips and serve.
Faux Smoked Salmon Jerky
Start to finish: 2 hours / Serves: 4-6
1 large eggplant
2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of red beet powder
1 tablespoon kelp powder
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
fresh cracked black pepper
¼ cup sesame oil
Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Peel and slice the eggplant into long thin strips about ¼-½ inch thick. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the seasonings together. Toss the eggplant strips in the mixture until well coated. Set aside for about 1 hour. The salt in the seasoning mixture will cause the eggplant to sweat.
After an hour has elapsed, pat dry the eggplant strips with a paper towel. In another large bowl, toss them in the ¼ cup of sesame oil until well coated. Place them onto a foil-lined baking sheet and put them in the oven for approximately 30-45 minutes turning them over once halfway through the cooking time.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack. Sprinkle additional cracked black pepper if desired. Serve and enjoy!
Gluten-free Pilot Bread
Start to finish: 60 minutes / Serves: 2-3
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon GF (and corn-free*) baking powder
1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice
¼ cup coconut oil (or palm oil shortening)
¼ cup (+/-) ice cold water
*Conventional baking powder typically contains either wheat or corn starch. Look for brands that use arrowroot or tapioca starch instead.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Add all of the dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until well incorporated. With a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the coconut oil until the mixture resembles coarse beach sand. Slowly add the ice cold water little by little and mix just until you get a pliable dough. Let the mixture rest in the fridge in a covered bowl for about 20 minutes.
Place the dough onto a sheet of wax paper. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about ¼" thick. Use a circle cookie cutter or mason jar lid to cut out neat circular shapes. Poke holes into the pilot bread crackers with either a barbeque stick or fork. Transfer them onto a baking tray and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a baking rack.
These recipes were first published in 61°North – The Food Issue. Contact the editor, Jamie Gonzales, at firstname.lastname@example.org