Monday, September 10, 2012

Stream to Table

On Saturday, we went for a rainy drive to explore a part of the island we hadn’t yet seen. We headed out towards Finger Bay, past the fish plant and the small boat harbor, climbing up until we reached the bluffs above the bay (and the long abandoned cabin that once stood watch over the submarine slips below).

From the cabin, we drove down to the water, stopping to wonder at the sparkling clear jellies and deep blue mussel shells on the stony beach.

Driving further along the stream, we saw movement in the water, and watchful birds along the banks. Salmon! Lacking fishing gear, we turned towards home.

And came back Sunday with waders and a net. The river was thick with Pinks, also known as Humpies for the distinctive hump developed by spawning males.

So thick, in fact, that Ivan got our first within about 30 seconds of wading in. And then we brushed up on our field dressing skills. (More, er, involved pictures after the jump.)

Ivan is the fisherman, but there was blood on my boots too. I took part in the dressing with a surprising amount of bravery, mostly driven by fascination with icthyoid anatomy. However, I will admit to screaming like a little girl and nearly dropping the (very dead, headless) fish when it gave a surprise wiggle while we were cleaning the kidney—which is in very close proximity to the spinal column.
Note the XtraTufs. Requirement for Alaskans?

Bogs are the ladies version.

We took three large male Pinks and cleaned them at the river, bringing them home to fillet.

The salmon considers the fillet knife.
We got a good number of fillets (enough for a dozen dinners) and I will roast the leftover bits and pieces to pick over and use for salmon salad or salmon cakes. We kept one head, which I simmered with an onion to make an unbelievably fragrant fish broth. As soon as we get this week’s CSA box*, which promises potatoes, we will enjoy fish chowder.

We had our first fillets, prepared in our traditional style by Ivan, who is the master of salmon and sourdough in this house. It involves an acid (lemon or lime juice), seasoning, and a seasoned sour cream topping.

The peas may have been from a can, the potatoes from a box… but the salmon was fresh as could be, only separated by a few hours from the cold waters of the Aleutians. 

More pictures after the jump. Warning: some are a bit gory!

*Next post! Fresh Fruit and Vegetables 1200 Miles from Town

The water is mesmerizing.

The stream. If you look carefully, you can see some salmon!

Here you can see the inflated buoyancy bladder and the milt sac

A dead female Pink. Most of the females we saw were in really rough shape; perhaps they were later in the spawning cycle?

1 comment:

  1. Your boots are super adorable! Also, you are very brave to help gut the salmon.


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