Living Alaska: A good ol’ fashioned fish bake, it’s the Alaska way
The rain held off just long enough to let us do it right; outside and around a campfire. Another Spenard fish bake left the lingering aroma of campfire smoke on our clothes and our stomachs comfortably stuffed with sockeye caught less than a month ago on the Kenai River.
Fish bakes, or fish frys, are an Alaska tradition. On the inaugural Alaska Wild Salmon Day, Wednesday, there were fish cookouts across the city, including the more private event in my backyard.
There are a few things that make an Alaska fish cookout so special, the first being the food. I am a firm believer that food, especially good food, is meant to be shared and it is the Alaska way to share your harvest with your community.
Secondly, it’s the people. Alaskans can have a gruff exterior — it’s the attitude that helps you survive the winter and drives you to harvest your own food — but they’ll do what they can to save your life and indulge in conversation deeper than material objects and Hollywood gossip.
Lastly, it’s the summer nights. What is a long, Alaska summer night for, if not to laugh around a fire with your best friends and a belly full of some of the best meat in the world?
Our impromptu fish bake was rather small on the scale of cookouts, but it was intimate and comforting. Guests included: An old friend (who moved to Los Angeles to study music, but returned mostly for the people), as well as my boyfriend’s childhood best friend (who has tattoos all over his body, but is likely the most well-behaved out of all of us) and an old colleague of mine (who happens to double as the best friend to my dogs).
All of them, plus five dogs made the most perfect group for a Wednesday night fish bake. It was as if the comforting combination of fish, friends and fire was exactly what I needed to de-stress and relax.
Each person piled their plates high with sweet potato salmon cakes, jalapeño parmesan salmon and grilled asparagus cooked in butter. I sipped on a glass of California pinot grigio, while the others worked on pints of microbrewed beer.
Around 11 p.m., the night wore down. The rain began to fall again and the fire dimmed. Everyone seemed to be mindlessly staring into the small flames, with a sort of smirk spread across their faces.
One by one, they all trickled out. As I cleaned up what was left of dinner, which was mostly crumbs, it occurred to me that each person who came got a bit of what they needed: a healthy meal, pleasant conversation and fire stimulation.
Yes, a little fish bake therapy is good for the Alaskan soul.
Megan Edge is a lifelong Alaskan residing in West Anchorage. The views expressed here are not necessarily the views of KTVA. Living Alaska is a regular feature, appearing on KTVA.com, about experiencing the Last Frontier through the outdoors.
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