Thursday, 30 August 2018

Focus on Fish

Everyone has different priorities as they travel or just live life. I love food. I always have. I enjoy trying new things, splurging on something local or something unique, or ordering the same thing in 10 different cities just to see different chefs' take on the same food. I thank my lucky stars that Anne enjoys this focus as much as I do. I thank the greatest brightest shooting lucky stars that she COOKS like that too!

This morning, Anne announced that we would be having chicken for dinner. The she asked me what kind of meal I would like: Mexican, Asian, Italian, Greek, Indian?? I chose Indian. Magic will ensue.

In our travels, during all the hustle and bustle of hikes and boat rides and planning dinners, someone said something like, "Ah, you can always eat later." I had quite honestly never considered putting off food for anything "more important" because nothing is more important to me. Let me break down food's importance briefly.
1. Food is literally fuel for our minds and bodies. If you aren't well fed, it's not likely you can fully enjoy the other things around you much less the challenges that arise in life.
2. Food provides a social connection. Preparing food together or for your guests and friends is a particularly loving act. Family units and cultures have always shared food in celebration.
3. Food is simply pleasurable. It is a joy to eat something delicious, let it melt into your mouth, and be able to feel a complete sense of gratitude for the experience and life in that moment.
4. Food allows you to be present in the now. Some may hastily eat their food not noticing the particular flavors, but I find that eating is the perfect time to truly feel happy in this specific time and place.
5. Like no other experience, you are able to fully use all five senses with taste being the primary. Smell adds to the anticipation. Sight, in our home, is where we serve a gift to each other rather than just dump food into a bowl. Hearing the sizzles, the clang of the spoon on the dish, the "mmmmm" of enjoyment, and even the gurgle of the stomach is a food symphony. The sense of touch with the weight of the fork, the sensation of your tongue and lips caressing each bite... well, now, is it getting hot in here or is it just me?

Anne mentioned in her previous post that we are putting together an outdoor kitchen. This will be a place to host friends as well as a place Anne can cook to her heart's content without heating up our very small cabin. I won't tell you much more about the outdoor kitchen because it is ALMOST finished and I'd rather save all the good photos and tales for when it's complete.

What I can tell you about is the fish we caught and shipped home! We have a million pounds of fish... come on over, we'll feed you! OK, maybe not a million pounds, but it sure seems like it. We have Halibut and PINK Salmon. Pink Salmon is really more like trout than the hearty Sockeye, Coho, or Chinook salmon we are all more used to eating from the grocery store or in restaurants. There are five types of Alaskan salmon. The only one not mentioned yet is the Chum or dog salmon which used to be fed exclusively to the sled dogs. Pink and Chum salmon are lower on the quality totem pole, but still perfectly tasty. If you like fish in general, you'd have no problem with Pink Salmon.
Anne reeling one in!
My dad scoped out the scene and figured out what equipment we needed. Anne and I marched over to the fishing pole shop and got exactly what we needed. The next morning, Dad, Anne, and I went to work. We got to reel in Pinks from the rising tide waters on the shore. Anne and I worked as a team because those fish are strong swimmers, and we only had one fishing pole that would do the job. She would reel it in, and I was in charge of first judging whether it was fresh enough or if it had changed too much into its spawning shape. If it had changed too much, developing a greenish hue and large hump on its back, its meat would be deteriorating and so, I would remove the hook and shove the fish back into the water. If it was judged fresh from the sea, I would subdue the flailing fighting fish by holding it securely down in my net, murdering the fish with a rock, and finally removing the hook with my needle nosed pliers. I'm not really into murder, but I'm even less into suffering. The way I figure it, if you're going to hunt and eat creatures, kill them as quickly and humanely as possible. It was exhausting catching our limit but we did it twice! Fun fact: I saved my murdering rock as a souvenir.
Pink Salmon of day 1.
In the middle of writing this, I was called to dinner. I walked into the kitchen where it smelled absolutely amazing. Nope, there is no picture. I ate every tiny morsel and almost licked the plate. Chicken curry. Anne says it's better with lamb, which I believe, but this was nothing to sneeze at. And now, back to the fish...

For the halibut, we were invited to go with friends, not a paid charter. There were five of us faux-fishermen plus Phil, our captain, the man in charge, the man who brought the boat and the poles and the bait. The water in Cook Inlet was not bad that day, but the first couple of hours wore me down until I thought I was going to be sick. I did everything in my power to stay upright. I closed my eyes and rested, and I ate tiny snacks every single time that I noticed I felt ok. The water calmed even more, I actually began feeling better, and then Anne caught the first fish! Halibut is a large flounder or flat fish with its eyes on the dark upper side and white under side. Each fish we brought in was a workout. Our fish were only in the thirty some pound range. Halibut can be much much bigger. We were perfectly satisfied to take home our smaller more tender fishes. Phil obviously loves fishing, sharing his knowledge, equipment and day with us... punctuated by the fact that he also fileted the fish for us as soon as we got back to dry ground. Truly an awesome experience with a superb host.

Reward for a long fishing day.
We had all of our fish frozen and shipped to Anne's Dad's house. Since Anne's return from her Dad's freezer, we have eaten fish three times. We plan to eat fish once every four or five days.

Salmon dinner number 1: Grilled salmon with chilled white bean salad. This dinner was quite tasty, but I guess I was super hungry and forgot to take a picture even though I knew very well that I wanted to tell you all about our fish meals in this blog.
Halibut tostadas... so delicious!
Halibut dish number 1: Halibut tostadas with fresh mango avocado salsa and roasted corn with poblano pepper. Anne cooked the halibut perfectly. Too long and the fish gets dry, just right and the flakes of fish naturally disconnect and melt in your mouth. We fried corn tortillas to make amazing crispy tostada shells. The heat of the poblanos balanced with the sweetness of the mango, and the magic of the avocado is its ability to blend and bring all flavors together.
Salmon enchiladas... mmmmm.
Salmon dish number 2: Salmon enchiladas. I made a cream cheese mixture with caramelized white onions and fresh green onions. I spread a small amount of cream cheese onto each corn tortilla, added Anne's lightly grilled fish, rolled and placed the roll into the baking dish. Over the 10 enchiladas, we poured a tomatillo salsa that Anne made from fresh and roasted tomatillos, roasted garlic and peppers. I sprinkled cheese on top and baked the whole thing until the cheese began to brown.

Stay tuned for more fish tales!

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