Story last updated at 1/23/2013 - 2:07 pm
Alaskans like to live off of the land. They hunt, fish, garden and gather. I liken it to shoe shopping. I hunt for the right pair, fish through bargain racks and gather those special deals. The only thing I can't do related to shoes is the gardening part. If only one could grow shoes. Imagine, cute, black strappy ones, with a nice heel, or perhaps the perfect red pumps just hanging from a green leaved tree in my backyard.
Alas, that is but a dream, while the hunting and fishing are not. That is a real part of everyday life in Alaska. As you can guess, I am not a hunter. Therefore, each fall when my husband declares he's going hunting I cringe. He loves to tease me about the potential carcass of some defenseless animal hanging over my mustang convertible in the garage. This does not endear me to the whole hunting process.
This year he didn't have much time for deer hunting. But, he decided on caribou hunting. I'm told caribou is often called reindeer. So basically, he's hunting Rudolf. I'll let you insert your own joke here. Trying to be more of a Real Alaskan Girl, I enthusiastically help him plan and pack for his adventure to Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Deep inside I wasn't terribly excited. It isn't that I'm opposed to hunting. I am not. I just don't want to be the one skinning, cleaning and processing the outcome of the hunt. And I don't relish the idea of a carcass hanging over my sports car.
Grant returned, the mighty hunter, with nearly 200 pounds of caribou. Being the intuitive husband he sometimes is, he took the meet to a processor and had burger, sausages and roasts packaged. Now I have so much caribou, I wonder if I am going to eat it every night for a year.
Raised in a city most of my life, I never had wild game, and I definitely had no idea how to cook it. After querying several friends and spending hours on internet searches, I determined the best way to learn was to just get in the kitchen and do it. The best part of caribou is that it is a very, very lean meat. So lean in fact, that you will need to add a little fat to it and slow cook it so that it is tender. I chose to cook my first caribou roast in a slow cooker. It turned out amazing. It was not only tender and juicy, but the sauce with red wine and onions was a perfect enhancement.
If the roast is any indication of how tasty caribou can be, I don't suppose it will too hard to eat it often. Maybe not daily, but definitely often.
So that's the Turf, now here's the Surf.
Recently, Grant and I were fortunate to vacation on the Big Island, Hawaii. What an incredible respite from the cold and rain. Between snorkeling, zip lining, parasailing, and learning to scuba dive, we ate. Our favorite meal was the Skipjack Ahi we caught ourselves on our fishing excursion. I did think it was humorous that the first thing Grant wanted to do in Hawaii was fish since that's what he does all summer in Juneau. However, fished we did, and best of all - we caught. In total we caught nine ahi and kept two for ourselves. The rest were given to the captain.
The first night I made sashimi with a soy-ginger sauce because Grant doesn't care for wasabi. The second night I made pan seared ahi with a sesame seed crust. When Grant insisted we freeze the rest and bring it home, I was skeptic. I didn't think it would make good sashimi after that, but I was so wrong. Raw or seared, it was delicious.
What I learned in Hawaii was that they too live off the land. The seafood is abundant, but there are also cattle ranches, sheep ranches, coffee plantations and small farms all over the island. The farmer's markets were a foodie's dream. Fresh pineapple, mangoes, papayas, guavas, bananas, and all the vegetables one could imagine. It truly was paradise.
When we returned home, we celebrated our subsistence living with our caribou roast and pan-seared ahi - the ultimate subsistence surf and turf.
For my city friends and family, never fear, these recipes are easily adaptable to beef and your favorite fish.
My hunter/gatherer/farmer friends have taught me that the land does provide some great sustenance. As long and I'm not the one who has to hunt, gather or farm, we're good.
This week I present to you a meal from the lands of cold and warm: Subsistence Surf & Turf.
Until next time...
Eat and enjoy,
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 large onion sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
1.5 cups beef broth
3-4 medium potatoes, largely diced
3-4 medium carrots, peeled and largely diced
In crock pot or slow cooker* heat two tablespoons olive oil. Combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and coat the roast. Carefully place in hot oil and brown on all sides. Deglaze with red wine.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes until wine thickens then add onions, garlic and beef broth. Set cooker on low and cook for 5-6 hours. Check for tenderness. Add the carrots and onion about 20 minutes prior to serving and cook until tender.
*If your slow cooker doesn't have a sleeve you can brown the roast in, use a skillet. After you deglaze the pan, transfer everything to the slow cooker. Set on low and cook 5-6 hours.
Pan Seared Ahi
4 4oz tuna steaks
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat oil in large skillet until smoking hot. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Lay pieces evenly on skilled and cook 3 -4 minutes on each side. Serve with sauce.
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
½ tablespoon finely minced scallion
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Combine soy sauce and honey and whisk until honey is well incorporated and is no longer thick. Add remaining ingredients and adjust according to your tastes. Some like it sweeter, some spicier.