Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

Smoked Herring Deviled EggsMany Alaskan’s know spring has arrived, not by a mark on the calendar but, by the Sitka sac roe herring fishery opening anew. March 25th the Southeast seine fishery kicked off and I’ve been checking out the fleet’s exploits on the Sitka Sac Row Herring Fishery Facebook page, scrolling through loads of great photos and video clips where blue skies and corks make me long for summer.

Deckhand Seafoods Easter BasketEaster Sunday is this weekend and in celebration of the Christian holiday and the onset of real Alaskan spring – I present to you Smoked Herring Deviled Eggs! I have loved Deckhand’s Daughter Smoked Herring since trying it a few years ago, bragging about it making the very best nicçoise sandwich, & trust me – these eggs are no less brag worthy. I always have a canned stash on hand, buying it by the case from it’s creator Warner Lew come springtime when he arrives in Dillingham to manage the Bristol Bay Icicle drift fleet.

Deviled EggsBristol Bay’s own herring fishery, the origin of Deckhand’s Daughter herring, takes place after Sitka’s, due largely to our much cooler ocean sea surface temperatures and ice influencing herring stocks migration patterns, Bristol Bay’s real warming and signs of new growth occur often in April and May. The fisheries immanency marked by the return of shore birds, grey whales, and herring amassing to spawn in kelp beds on shores off Togiak and Kulukuk Bays.  Continue reading

Smoked Salmon Sweet Potato Au GratinWhen I open my freezer or visit my pantry this time of year, I’m acutely aware that the subsistence bounty we harvested here in Bristol Bay is tangible proof of a life well led.

Moose roasts wrapped in butcher paper, spruce grouse breasts sliced thin, ready for breakfast, greens blanched, halibut portioned out carefully, and berries in individual pie-sized portions all line the freezer shelves. Pickles, jam, and jellies all preserved in jars fill the pantry. Bins of potatoes still dirty from the garden lay cool on the tile floor. The season for being consciously thankful is here, my freezer is proof.

Susie and Bea celebrating salmonOf course, there is also an abundance of salmon, the main staple in our diet. There are fillets, steaks, heads, and roe all cleaned and frozen neatly in vacuum sealed bags filling the chest freezer. Buckets of salt fish cure in our cellar, smoked fish and strips are kept chilled or frozen, and then there are the cases and cases of jarred salmon all professing our hard work and our fortune. Truly, these are things to be ever thankful for.  Continue reading

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