Yup’ik Cuisine – Lower Yukon River
Ways We Prepare Fish
Salmon – Definitely a favorite!. We dry, smoke, bake, fry, ferment, roast, and boil it. Salmon is caught during the spring, summer and fall and most of it is dried. We gut it, head it, and then kind of fillet it leaving the tail on and hang it outside to dry and then smoke it. After it has been dried and smoked then we pack it in barrels or five gallon buckets and store it for the winter. A favorite way to enjoy salmon is dried (slightly smoked), then we boil it with potatoes and then eat it with fresh chunks of onions. Sprinkle with salt and dip them in seal oil.
Other ways to enjoy is to bake it, fry it and put it in soup. A favorite is fish head and salmon egg soup, if you don’t mind eyes staring at you while you enjoy it. During the winter we enjoy dried fish with our soups. It still amazes that when you eat fish here it helps keep you warm. Salmon is also used in Akutaq, known to many as Eskimo Ice Cream.
Whitefish family including Sheefish – We prepare and eat it pretty much the same as salmon with one exception: we eat it frozen. We take a whole frozen Sheefish and fillet it and eat it frozen/raw with salt and seal oil. Sheefish and Whitefish are used in Akutaq.
Blackfish – Small black fish ranging from 3 to 8 inches in length. They are definitely a favorite here. They are eaten dried, baked, raw frozen and boiled. Additionally, we use them as bait to catch Sheefish, Lush fish and Pike.
Lush fish – Bottom dwelling fish that are eaten boiled and baked.
Tom cod – Eaten dried, baked and boiled.
Pike – We eat Pike fried, boiled, and baked. In March and April we travel 27 miles east by snowmachine to a place that in Yup’ik means “Tree stump creek”. People from many villages around the Lower Yukon (Nunam Iqua, Alakanuk, Emmonak, Scammon Bay, Hooper Bay, Chevak, and Mountain Village) travel there just to catch Pike.
Herring – Dried (smoked), boiled. Herring eggs are collected with the kelp where they are laid and eaten together.
Halibut – Dried, baked, boiled and fried.
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For help locating the Lower Yukon region, please visit the map of “The cultural habitats of Alaska’s Lower Yukon River and Upper Kuskokwim River“.