Holiday Food Traditions
As we close our eleventh year of business, we are reflecting on the diverse and loving community that has supported us. Whether you joined in our earliest years when we delivered fish out of the back of our own cars or joined us last month, we are thankful for your support of a better seafood system that enriches fishing communities and respects the limits of the sea.
This year we shared stories across Alaska, beginning with the sinking of fisherman Cale LaDuke’s F/V Saami. Along the way we talked to fishermen about the impact of climate change and learned how indigenous communities in Southeast Alaska are empowering a new generation of scientists and activists.
This time of year the days are short and we all turn to celebrations with our families and communities. If you are like us, you also take stock of your freezer and consider just how to infuse wild Alaska seafood into your holiday plans. Many of you generously shared your holiday seafood traditions and they express the range of experiences of a diverse membership united by a love of wild seafood.
The Golden State
While living in the Bay area, member Kathy Mason had easy access to the bounty of seafood offered by the Pacific Ocean. She recently relocated to Yucca Valley, nestled in the heart of southern California’s high desert just outside Joshua Tree National Park. With the port of Los Angeles more than two hours away, ocean access isn’t as easy in the desert as it was in the Bay area, but if you have a road to your town we can deliver premium seafood to just about anywhere.
Kathy loves to serve slow cooked salmon with lemon relish during the holidays, adapted from Alice Water’s classic Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. To brighten up the winter table, Kathy also makes a cherry salsa to bring a sweet spin on an entertaining standard.
Members Marcus and Rigoberto Zarco live and work in the greater Chicagoland area, but their hearts remain in Texas. Rigoberto loves Grace Parisi’s chowder recipe, which Marcus cooks for him during the first good chill of the year. The couple usually spend the holidays travelling the I-35 corridor in Texas to visit Marcus’s family, from the Rio Grande Valley north to Dallas-Fort Worth, but the pandemic suspended their usual festivities.
Although the gatherings became smaller, the culinary offerings remain impressive. Marcus puts a wild Alaska spin on mac n’ cheese during Thanksgiving by adding spot shrimp to the classic dish. Rigoberto’s brother smokes salmon for Christmas festivities and Marcus bakes up golden salmon en croute pies throughout the holiday season.
Seafood Subscription Box
Member Mary Jo Dagney’s table rounds out our trek through the lower 48, with a Mid-Atlantic staple: antipasto. Mary Jo hosts a monthly game of canasta with a core group that began in the 1990s. Mary Jo makes sure to always share a meal and a simple spread of our own smoked salmon with raw veggies and pickles served with homemade bagels.
Although smoked salmon is cooked in the process, Mary Jo’s antipasto spread is a great place to highlight the three C’s of raw fish preparation: crudo, carpaccio, and ceviche. If terrestrial proteins take center stage during your festivities, wild seafood can serve as supporting roles to whet the appetites of your dinner guests while they await the main course.
Sitka Fisherman Stu Weathers has a holiday dish that few folks outside of southeast Alaska have had the opportunity to try: herring roe salad. Herring roe, harvested in the spring months is blanched and frozen, to be brought out for special occasions. Stu compares it to a Waldorf or potato salad with a heavy mayonnaise base infused with briny roe that has become a local tradition in Sitka.
While you may not have access to herring roe, the fish is a keystone species in the north Pacific ecosystem. As our own Emma Bruhl wrote herring are the fish that fed your fish. Whether you enjoyed wild halibut, cod, or salmon this year, we all benefit from the herring roe that fill the waters of southeast Alaska every spring.
Whether you live in the Southwest desert or New England and all points in between, our staff here at Sitka Salmon Shares are busy getting your January boxes ready. Cheers!