5 simple wild food recipes from Alaska

There are a few things in life that connect us all — one of those things is food. That’s probably even truer in Alaska, where we take great pride in the wild resources in our backyard, and our roles — personal and professional — as responsible stewards.

Food and stories; they go hand-in-hand

We also connect through the stories we tell. And food, especially wild foods of Alaska, often feature prominently in our stories. People across the state and employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska generously share their experience harvesting, preparing and eating wild foods through stories, photos, and special recipes. The recipes below are short stories of their own that inspire respect for Alaska’s wild foods and raise awareness of our roles as stewards of fish, wildlife, and lands that people live from and that are central to the Alaskan way of life.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees make and share traditional wild foods with one another.

Employee recipes you won’t want to miss

Sauted Fiddlehead Ferns — Karen Deatherage

Blanch for two minutes, saute in butter and garlic for 3–5 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.

Create a colorful plate by nestling fiddlehead alongside a bright red filet of Copper River sockeye salmon!

Deep Fried Hooligan — Trent Liebich

Rinse the cleaned hooligan with cold water. Pat dry with paper towel set on plate.

In a bowl, prepare your favorite waffle batter and season to taste with seasoned salt and black pepper.

In a bowl, mix together 1/3 cup each of finely-crushed saltine crackers, panko bread crumbs, and regular bread crumbs.

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 350–375˚F. Dip the hooligan into the seasoned batter (hold up letting extra batter fall off). Roll in breading and then place in fryer for approximately 5 minutes.

Bristol Bay Salmon Poke—Orville Lind

Orville uses salted salmon in his poke recipe. From his childhood, he recalls making salted salmon every year in 20 to 40 gallon wooden barrels. Today he uses 5-gallon buckets.

Salted salmon
You need one sack of medium rock salt, 10 filleted salmon with each fillet cut in half across its width and one 5 gallon bucket.

Fill bottom of bucket with half inch of salt. Place enough salmon fillets, skin side down, to cover the salt. Add a 1/2 inch of salt and another layer of salmon. Repeat until the bucket is nearly full. Add a final layer of salt, snap the cover on the bucket and store in a cool place for 60 to 90 days.

Poke
Flush approximately 3 lbs of salted salmon with fresh water three times a day for two days. Dice salmon into bite sized pieces.

In a large bowl, mix 6 cups virgin olive oil; 2 cups diced onion; 1 or 2 cups garlic, either minced or whole; 1/2 cup oregano; 1 cup liquid from a jar of pickled jalapenos; 1 cup of sesame seeds; 2 cups soy sauce. Add diced salmon and marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Wild Salmon Sushi — Katrina Liebich

You will need “sushi grade” wild Alaska salmon (to us, this means fish cleaned at home, wiped with paper towel before freezing, frozen for 30+ days) fillet with skin, sushi rice, seasoned rice vinegar, nori wraps. Optional: sesame seeds, avacado, cucumber, saracha, ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. You will also need a bamboo sushi roller.

Cook rice according to package directions. When done, add seasoned rice vinegar, approximately 1/3 cup per cup of rice. Prepare salmon: take salmon out of freezer and wrap in a paper towel to thaw fillet-up. Separate the fillet from the skin and remove the lateral line/brown flesh and bones. Cut into thin strips, or if you like it spicy: cut into small pieces and put in a bowl and mix in saracha sauce to taste and set aside. Cut skin into strips and put in pan. Add veggie oil (not olive oil, because it won’t get crispy) and cover. Turn on burner on med/high until it starts to pop. Turn burner off, flip skin, repeat, then immediately remove and let sit on paper towel. Put nori on roller, spread a thin layer of rice over whole thing, put salmon and other ingredients you want in the sushi in a line across the bottom of the nori about an inch in diameter. Depends how fat you want your rolls. Then roll and cut with a very sharp knife. Break skin into 1" pieces and stick in cut roll pieces. Serve and enjoy!

Part of the joy of wild foods is gathering them.

No Bake Salmonberry Jello pie — Lisa Hupp
Whip 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 6–8 oz sour cream and add 1/4–1/2 c. sugar and 1 tsp vanilla to taste. Carefully coat the inside of the entire crust with mixture (this protects the crust from the liquid filling). Reserve any extra for topping.

Prepare a 3 oz package of raspberry jello according to instructions and whisk in 1 Tbs of corn starch until all is dissolved. Let cool for a bit.

Fill 1 graham cracker pie shell with fresh-picked salmonberries until slightly mounded. Slowly pour jello mixture over berries until it reaches top of crust but does not seep over cream cheese. Place on a level surface in refrigerator for 3–4 hours or until jello sets. Top with whipped cream cheese mixture and enjoy!

Today and for generations to come, we live with, live from, discover and enjoy the wildness of this awe-inspiring land and the people who love and depend on it. Share your experiences harvesting, preparing and eating Alaska’s wild foods through photos, recipes, and stories. Use #AKWildFoods #ShareYourPlate in your post.

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In Alaska we are shared stewards of world renowned natural resources and our nation’s last true wild places. The lands and waters of this place we call home nourish a vast and unique array of fish, wildlife and people. We cultivate a reverent awareness and respect for all things, from Alaska’s smallest plants and most iconic animals to its diverse communities and cultures. Our hope is that each generation has the opportunity to live with, live from, discover and enjoy the wildness of this awe-inspiring land and the people who love and depend on it.