From Kotzebue, the family moved to King Salmon, Alaska. The town named for the largest of salmon species, is located about 400 miles southwest of Anchorage. Grandma’s sons were in their teens during the stay in King Salmon. They and Grandpa kept the family supplied with moose, caribou, ptarmigan, showshoe rabbits and, of course, salmon.
The King, or Chinook, salmon grows the largest of the several species of salmon that migrated upriver each summer. A big Chinook can weigh 80 pounds but are normally in the 30-50 pound range.
The king of salmon
The Chinook may be the king of salmon in size but the Sockeye reigns supreme in flavor. It has the reddest flesh and the highest oil content. The family was allowed to fish for salmon using a net as long it met fish and game regulations for length of net and season of the year. The highlight of the year was the annual salmon run of Sockeye.
A bountiful catch of Sockeye salmon
So, what can be done with so many salmon? For Grandma that was no problem. Sockeye salmon can be frozen, canned, smoked, smoked and then canned, or eaten fresh. Grandma’s recipes include many options for preserving the harvest of salmon so that none was wasted.
Grandma’s kitchen became a salmon processing factory during the annual salmon runs. First the salmon were filleted:
Buckets of salmon fillets
Some of the fillets were frozen whole. The rest were skinned and made the journey to either the smoke box or the cans.
Salmon goes into cans to be pressure cooked
It is easy to see why Grandma’s recipes include so many with salmon as an ingredient. Canned fresh salmon is extremely versatile and it’s hard to choose a favorite recipe among the many.
For everyone in Grandma’s extended family the favorite recipe is smoked salmon. It’s sweet, smoky flavor cannot be described in a way that does it justice. The look on a family member’s face as they slowly chew and savor each morsel is better evidence why many grandchildren would rather have smoked salmon than candy.