The RV Eater: Local in Alaska.

Kelp pickles. Kachemak Bay Sea Salt. Haskap Jam. Halibut. Sliced sourdough.

These are just a few of the local foods I scavenged and savored on a recent RV trip to Alaska. While traveling from Anchorage to Seward and then down to Homer, I poked around shops, farmers markets, bakeries, restaurants and harbors to hunt down these off the grid goodies made by small local and dedicated artisans.

My husband and I have been camping for decades now and one of my side shows while doing so has been to hunt down local specialty items while we are out on the highways and byways. For many years I had a mobile kitchen in our family travel trailer which took our family of five far and wide through the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. This week we had a fully equipped kitchen in a Minnie Winnie which we rented from Great Alaskan Holidays in Anchorage.

While cruising through the Land of the Midnight Sun this week, I stocked my pantry with a spontaneous array of local goods. It was a delightful way to bring the flavors of Alaska to the Dixie plates on the campground dinner table.

The kelp pickles, made in Sitka from local seaweed and seasoned with the iconic bread and butter pickling spices, were ridiculously good. Pickle rings were added to smoked cheese bratwurst carted up from Seattle. They were also tucked on smoked salmon canapés, resulting in a very Scandinavian inspired hors d’oeuvre.

The sliced sourdough was from The Bakery in Girdwood and sadly didn’t last long in my mobile kitchen. Light and flavorful, the bread made great sandwiches and was enhanced even further with sunflower sprouts from the Saturday Homer Farmers Market. It was the bread of choice for breakfast and lunch.

The Alder smoked Kachemak Bay Sea Salt also from the Homer farmers market added a lively touch sprinkled over the evening salad.

Haskap Jam from Alaska Berries was scored at the visitor center in scenic town of Kenai. No one at the center could tell me much about the blue jam but back at the Heritage RV Park it was great on my morning granola with yogurt and berries. Eaten seaside while being warmed by the sun was simplicity at its best.

Salmon 101: Reach for Frozen and Fire Up the Grill Pan

Grilled Salmon and Kale Risotto

Do you want to eat more fish but you hesitate to give it a shot?  Do you tend to feature more seafood on your menus during the summer months when it can be quickly grilled outside?

Well, understandably, seafood, salmon in particular, lends itself to warm weather dining. During the summer, salmon is literally landing on our Pacific Northwest shores fresh and practically still flapping…that being said, a hefty chunk of the salmon that hails from Northwest waters is processed and frozen for the off season.

Over the years, I’ve cooked a lot of frozen salmon and without a doubt those frozen fillets offer convenience beyond compare. Easily found in the frozen food cases in the seafood department and sold pin boned, portioned and packaged, they can simply be pulled from the freezer on short notice and defrosted in a flash by submerging the package in cool water.

One of my favorite ways to cook these convenient fillets is to grill them INDOORS on my Le Creuset ridged grill pan. I inherited my small red ridged pan from my father and it’s a great pan for quick one person seafood dishes. After preheating my grill pan over moderately high heat and simply sprinkling my salmon with a little sea salt and spraying it (and the pan) with oil, I plop my defrosted salmon fillet on the ridges and savor that initial sizzle. I let the fillet, which is probably about 5 to six ounces, sear for about a minute or two. I then flip it and let the other side sizzle and sear. (I sometimes cook it with the skin on and other times I take the skin off prior to cooking.) After about a minute or two on the other side, I cover the fillet, turn down the heat to moderately low and let the fillet cook for another minute, checking for doneness.

This super quick grilled salmon is then ready to be served on top of rice, potatoes, grains or even a lightly dressed salad or a medley of sliced tomatoes. Alternatively, it can be turned into a simple sandwich or even a decadent Salmon BLT.

Note:  And, if you are Caesar Salad fan, try my recipe for Blackened Sockeye on Kale Caesar Salad, which I developed for the Bristol Bay Sockeye website last spring. For additional information on frozen, check out this section too.

Celebrate Seafood with The Dillingham Salmon Melt!

Dillingham Sockeye Salmon Melt

October is National Seafood Month so without a doubt you are seeing a lot of press swirling around this highly nutritious protein. To celebrate, I could certainly feature an array of ideas, species and dishes but in an attempt to keep things simple I’m going to share my recipe for an affordable, quick and comforting dish–the Dillingham Salmon Melt.

I created this simple lunch dish for myself last spring while I was researching, developing, and testing recipes for canned Alaska sockeye for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. This recipe was created early on in my adventure, and I made it one cold and rainy Seattle day. It was ridiculously easy and incredibly comforting for lunch so I am happy to share it with you here.

I’ve dubbed the recipe the Dillingham Salmon Melt because Dillingham, Alaska is home to the Peter Pan Cannery, one of the longest continually operating salmon canneries in Alaska. I’ve toured that  historic blue clapboard cannery twice and it’s a true maritime icon…not to mention a salmon processing workhorse!

The Dillingham Salmon Melt

Prep Time: About five minutes

1. Get a can of Alaska sockeye salmon, which can easily be found in the canned fish section of the supermarket.  You can get a small or large can, and I should note that the salmon will most likely contain the skin and the bones, which do NOT need to be picked out because they were cooked and softened during the canning process. Open and drain the can, discarding the liquid.

2. Preheat the broiler. Put the salmon, with the skin and the bones, into a food processor or mini chopper. Add some fresh dill, chopped scallion, and a hefty squeeze of fresh lemon. (I find that the lemon really brightens the salmon flavor.) Run the food processor for four or five seconds, pulsing the button as necessary in order to process the fish evenly. Add two or three blobs of low fat mayonnaise and pulse two or three times to combine. (If you don’t have a food processor, don’t worry. Just use a fork and combine thoroughly.)

3. Cut your English muffins in half and toast lightly in the toaster, transferring to a baking sheet. With a tablespoon, scoop up the salmon mixture and place it on the English muffins.

4. Take 1/2 cup or so of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and toss in some grated cheddar or Parmesan. Sprinkle this evenly over your salmon sandwiches and drizzle the sandwiches with a little melted butter if desired. Put the salmon melts under the broiler and watch carefully, cooking until they are browned and heated through.

5. Serve on a bed of lightly dressed greens and enjoy!

If you’d like more information on canned Alaska sockeye salmon as well as my recipe for Three Minute Salmon Salad, head over to Bristol Bay Sockeye.org.