The Fantastic Mr. Feedbag

A website celebrating and enumerating Juneau, Alaska's food culture

Posts Tagged ‘Alaskan Food

Pesto Rockfish with Rebecca

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For just over a year, I was in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program in secondary education. The experience was incredible. I loved student teaching at Floyd Dryden with my awesome host teacher, and peer learning community. It may sound cheesy, but I’ve missed my students this summer, and I know that they’ll all go on to do some great things with their lives.

The MAT program is only a year long, and so the course work is intense. The summer session has classes that span about three weeks long. One of my favorite people to work with in the MAT program has been my friend, Rebecca. I made a lot of friends in the program who are going all around the world, and state to teach. I’ll miss them all – especially old Jim-Bob, Chris, Nick, Mara, and Abe. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for Summer and Jennie as they go on into the next two quarters of the program, and finish up their student teaching.

A difficult thing for me during my Master’s program was not having enough time to prepare good food, and not getting enough sleep. I worked part-time during the program, an average of three evenings a week at two different local restaurants. It was difficult, but the reward of not having a student loan payment makes me feel like it was worth it. My friend Rebecca and I bonded the last couple of weeks of class. During our break we’d work on course work, and share our lunches. Often we had strangely constructed salads, made from random scraps we grabbed from our kitchens in the morning mad dash to school.

Last week we got together a couple of times to work on our Teacher Work Samples and portfolios, and ate decent food. Rebecca has a pretty good line of fresh local fish, and this fresh rockfish was fabulous.

We prepared the rockfish by baking it in an iron skillet with a simple rub of pesto, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Fresh fish doesn’t need much to be delicious, but it’s easily dried out if you bake it without a source of moisture. This iron skillet recipe could accommodate many kinds of fish.


Rebecca and I talked about how rockfish is often called a poor man’s version of halibut. We decided that this particular rockfish was actually just as flavorful, if not better than halibut that we’d both had this summer. Rockfish can be rad!

– Three to four filets of fresh rockfish (or whatever fish you have available)
– Two tablespoons of olive oil
– Fresh ground pepper & sea salt to lightly coat the filets
– One to two tablespoons of pesto (freshly made, or store bought: Costco brand is good & affordable) to coat each filet

– Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
– Coat the pan in one to two tablespoons of olive oil
– Grind fresh pepper & sprinkle sea salt liberally on each side of your filets
– Rub a tablespoon or two of pesto into each side of your filets
– Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes (check on your filets at 20 minutes, or so to see if the fish is flaking – a good indication that it’s done)

Serving Suggestion:
We made an awesome fresh green salad with pine nuts and feta cheese to accompany our pesto rockfish filets. I’d suggest serving this fish with a Pinot Grigio, or an Alaskan Pale Ale.


Greek Smoked Salmon Dip

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salmon dip

Last weekend Matty and I were invited to the best dinner party, ever. It was celebrating the birthday of one of our favorite people in town, Katie White. Unfortunately, I got sick late in the afternoon, and was unable to attend the dinner party. I hear it was a beautiful dinner with fantastic people, and of course ridiculous food. Someone told me a rumor about lobster macaroni and cheese, can you believe that? Matt made this dip for the party and has been happily eating it all week.

This past fall, Matt went out fishing off the beaches here in Juneau. He caught a good number of cohos that we smoked up for all kinds of deliciousness. This winter we invested in a little smoker, which I’m sure we will put to all kinds of amazing uses when we start hunting and gathering again this coming summer/fall.

Oh, Feedbag: I almost forgot to tell you I got a food dehydrator for Christmas! Does anyone out there with a food dehydrator have any awesome ideas for me? I’m excited to buy a flat of mangoes at Costco and get started with a dried fruit project.

This is Matt’s own recipe with our wild caught salmon, it’s already a classic in our house.


– 12 ounces of crumbled & deboned wild Alaskan smoked salmon
– 8 ounces of cream cheese, pre-softened to room temperature
– 1 cup of Greek yogurt
– 1/2 cup of feta cheese (Mt. Vikos is my favorite)
– 1/2 red onion, finely diced
– 1/4 cup of fresh dill
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 1 bulb of roasted garlic
– salt & pepper to taste


To roast garlic:
– Pre-heat oven 325 degrees
– Cut off the top 1/3 of the bulb, exposing the cloves, and drizzle in olive oil
– wrap bulb in tin foil and roast for one hour

To assemble dip:
– prepare all ingredients and process in a food processor

Serving suggestion: This is perfect as a dip for crackers, or as a spread for a sandwich or a bagel.

Winter Harvested & Smoked Cockles

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Chad's Smoked Cockles
A jar of hand harvested and home smoked cockles.

Harvesting clams and cockles in the winter months is a traditional way of life for many Southeast Alaskan residents. It’s not for the faint of heart and certainly this winter with gale force winds, freezing rain, and rock bottom temperatures has deterred many from braving the frigid beaches. Matt and I recently had dinner with a couple of my oldest friends in Juneau. Amy lives in North Douglas with her husband Chad and their baby Anneliese. I’ve known Amy since elementary school where we discovered the band Queen together and later in middle school worshipped the goddesses and gods of Grunge. My friend Jess and her husband to be Woody, also live in North Douglas. Jess and I went to school together in Southern Oregon, where we had many an adventure.

Family II
Amy, Chad, and their daughter Anneliese.

Amy’s husband Chad is the quintessential Alaskan guy. Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Chad grew up hunting white tail deer, and continues to hunt and harvest fish & game for his family here in Alaska. We all got together for an incredible dinner the other weekend that included venison meatballs, a smoked salmon & cockle appetizer platter, salad, gorgeous bread, and a homemade grapefruit sorbet. Everything was delicious and the company couldn’t be beat: great friends, a cute baby, nice guys.

Anneliese & WoodyAuntie Jess & Anneliese
Woody and Jess take turns hanging out with Anneliese

Venison Meatballs
A venison meatball with a delicious marinara sauce over a green salad.

Chad’s process of harvesting, smoking, and canning cockles is something I want to share with readers of Feedbag. To make this recipe you need some specialized gear, be a carnivore, live near the coast, or have access to fresh seafood. I’d never had smoked cockles before, the flavor and consistency is almost that of a meaty kalamata olive. I’m excited to use the jar Chad and Amy gave us to make a seafood chowder.

Please remember that harvesting clams, cockles, and other shellfish during months outside of the winter season can be fatal. In Southeast Alaska last summer there were fatalities from paralytic shellfish poisoning. So don’t mess around with harvesting shellfish during months that don’t end with the letter Y. I found this incredible guide to harvesting some common shellfish in Alaska. Please read it or consult someone who regularly harvests shellfish before going it alone.

Ingredients & Instructions:
– A bunch of hand harvested or market bought cockles or clams, steamed until tender and cleaned. I’m not sure of an exact amount, as many as you can harvest maybe around 3-5 pounds.
– Smoke with alder for about an hour and a half in one of these.
– Cut your cockles into bite-sized pieces.
– Fill jars 1/4 to 1/8 full with canola oil, fill entirely with cockles, 1 teaspoon of salt.
– Pressure cook for 1.5 hours.

Serving Suggestion:

Or use your delicious smoked cockles to make a seafood chowder.

Thanks to Chad & Amy for having us over for dinner and sharing hand harvested locally made food with us! Thanks to Jess & Woody for the delicious bread and homemade grapefruit sorbet. Thanks to Anneliese for being totally ridiculously cute!

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