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1:54 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Chef Kathy Gunst Brings Recipes From Alaska

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 9:09 am

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst traveled to Alaska to learn about the cuisine of our northernmost state from chef Kirsten Dixon at Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge in Alaska.

The state has a short, intense growing season — only 100 days or so — but during those hundred days there is almost continual sunlight, which makes for large, bountiful produce.

Kathy sampled the famed Alaskan salmon, which is popular not only with people, but also Alaska’s bear population (see slideshow above).

She shares five recipes — three of Kirsten Dixon’s and two of her own:

  1. Grilled Salmon with Maple Glaze and Sea Salt
  2. Alaska Salmon Burgers (two variations)
  3. Alaska Salmon Curry
  4. Homemade Blueberry Jam
  5. Blueberry Pie

Grilled Salmon with Maple Glaze and Sea Salt

(printer-friendly PDF of all five recipes)

From “Notes from a Maine Kitchen” by Kathy Gunst (Down East Books)

Kathy’s Note: I am not a big fan of sweet sauces on fish. So you wouldn’t think I would create a recipe for maple-glazed salmon. But the balance of rich oily salmon balanced by sweet maple syrup and coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper works. The recipe is deceptively simple: maple syrup is simmered down to a thick glaze and then brushed onto salmon filets. Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper go on top and the whole thing is placed under the broiler or on the grill. The salmon is basted twice with the reduced syrup. The result: moist salmon with a sweet and slightly salty glaze. Serve with basmati rice or couscous or for brunch with fried eggs, biscuits, muffins or crusty bread.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon olive oil

Two 6 to 8 ounce salmon filets, or 1 pound salmon cut into two pieces, look for wild salmon

About 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Generous sprinkle coarsely ground black pepper

Instructions:

Place the syrup in a small saucepan and place over very low heat. Simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until the syrup is thickened, and almost reduced by half.

Spread the oil along the bottom of a medium size rimmed baking sheet or gratin dish. Place the fish on top, skin side down. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, lightly brush half the syrup on top of the fish. (If you reduced the syrup and it has “hardened” you’ll need to reheat it over very low heat again to liquefy it and make it easy to work with.) Sprinkle the salt and pepper on top and gently press the salt crystals and pepper into the syrup so they stick.

Preheat the broiler. Alternately you can heat a gas or charcoal grill and place a grill tray on it (a small perforated grill device that lets you grill something without having it stick). Let the grill get hot, about 400 degrees. Place the fish about 4 inches under the broiler or place on the hot grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Brush the remaining syrup on top and grill another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from the heat and serve hot.

Serves 2.

Alaska Salmon Burgers

From “The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook: Culinary Adventures in the Alaskan Wilderness” by Kirsten Dixon (Alaska Northwest Books)

Kirsten’s Note: As you might imagine, after thirty years of cooking salmon burgers, we’ve tried a few variations. Here are two that are favorites.

Ingredients for Variation #1:

1 pound boneless, skinless Alaska salmon

1/2 small red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

1/4 cup basil, cut into chiffonade

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for Variation #2:

1 pound boneless, skinless Alaska sockeye salmon

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

Juice of half a lime

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 pinch smoked paprika

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions for Variation #1:

Dice half of the salmon into 1/8-inch cubes. Purée the other half in a food processor.   Combine both the salmons together in a medium bowl. Combine together the red onion, garlic, and basil. Add this mixture into the salmon, stirring to gently combine. Season the salmon with salt and pepper to taste.

Shape the salmon into 4 patties and chill until ready to grill or sauté.

Makes 4 burgers

Instructions for Variation #2:

Dice half of the salmon into 1/8-inch cubes. Purée the other half in a food processor. Combine both the salmons together in a medium bowl. Combine together the cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and smoked paprika. Add this mixture into the salmon, stirring to gently combine. Season the salmon with salt and pepper to taste.

Shape the salmon into 4 patties and chill until ready to grill or sauté.

Makes 4 burgers.

Alaska Salmon Curry

From “The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook: Culinary Adventures in the Alaskan Wilderness” by Kirsten Dixon (Alaska Northwest Books)

Kirsten’s Note: After all these years, salmon curry is still a staff and guest favorite. We prefer to make our own curry spice blend. Make this dish as spicy or mild as you prefer by adjusting the cayenne pepper.

Ingredients:

1 pound Alaska salmon

1/2 small red onion

1 fresh tomato

1 knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon whole Fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups coconut milk

Instructions:

Skin the salmon and remove any pin bones. Trim the belly meat and any thinner edges to create a fillet that is uniform in thickness. Cut the fillet into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.

Grate the onion on a box grater using the medium holes. Grate the tomato until all that remains in your hand is the skin. Discard the tomato skin. Add the onion and tomato into a medium sauce- pan and cook over medium heat until the liquid begins to evaporate, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the ginger, garlic, cayenne, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and the fennel. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the spices are aromatic. Add in the lemon juice. Stir for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the canola oil and continue to stir until the oil is colored from the spices, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well, lowering the heat slightly. The milk should come just to a light simmer.

Drop the salmon into the curry and, with a slotted spoon, remove after 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the salmon over rice (either molded like I prepared or loosely mounded) with extra curry poured over the top.

Makes 16 individual appetizers or 4 main-course dishes.

Homemade Blueberry Jam

From “Winterlake Lodge Cookbook: Culinary Adventures in the Alaskan Wilderness” by Kirsten Dixon (Alaska Northwest Books)

Kirsten’s Note: Wild blueberries are small and intensely flavored but you can substitute store-bought berries if necessary. Sometimes I add a clove to this recipe. Add a little vinegar to make a savory sauce.

Ingredients:

4 cups wild (or store- bought) blueberries

4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions:

Into an enamel or stainless steel medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Lightly mash the berries if you prefer. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and gently boil for 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 4 cups.

Blueberry Pie

From “Notes from a Maine Kitchen” by Kathy Gunst (Down East Books)

Kathy’s Note: Plan on letting the crust chill for at least an hour before rolling it out. And once the pie is made it should chill for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Ingredients for the crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

About 3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Ingredients for the fruit filling:

4 cups wild or cultivated blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a combination of all three

1 ripe peach or nectarine, peeled, pitted and cut into thin slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar or Vanilla Sugar*

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten, optional

*To make Vanilla Sugar: cut a vanilla bean down the center lengthwise. Place it in a sugar pot and let it “flavor” the sugar for 24 hours and up to several months. Vanilla sugar is delicious in all kinds of baked goods where vanilla extract would be used.

Instructions:

To prepare the crust: Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter or your hands, break the butter up into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in the 3 tablespoon of the water, adding more if needed, until the dough begins to come together and there is no excess flour in the bottom of the bowl. Add another tablespoon or two of water if needed. Divide the dough in half and mound them each into a round, flat disc, and wrap each in a large piece of plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour, or up to 48 hours.

To prepare the filling: In a bowl gently mix the blueberries, peach slices, sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla until all the berries are well coated. The berries can macerate in the sugar for several hours, covered and refrigerated.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Remove one of the chilled dough circles and roll it out to a circle about 11 inches across. Place the circle into a 9-inch pie plate, allowing the edges to fall over the sides of the pie plate. Place the cooled blueberry mixture inside the dough. Roll out the other piece of dough to a circle about 11 inches across. Using a pizza cutter or a small, sharp knife, cut strips about ½-inch thick out of the dough. Place the strips on top of the fruit filling, creating a crisscross lattice pattern. Trim off any excess crust and crimp the edges of the dough together, creating a decorative pattern. Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and brush the pastry with the beaten egg, if desired. (It will make the crust shiny and golden.) Bake for 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 and bake another 10 to 2 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the pie begins to brown too fast, cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil. Let the pie cool slightly before cutting.

Serves 6 to 8.

Guest

  • Kathy Gunst, cookbook author and resident chef for Here & Now.
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