Faith Wachter Consulting

Happy Hour: Beach Season on the Kenai River

Happy Hour:  Beach Season on the Kenai River

Happy Hour: Beach Season on the Kenai River

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram lately, you know I’ve been traveling a lot these last few weeks.  The great thing about travel is that it gives this foodie gal plenty to blog about.  This is my first of a few posts about my recent trip to the last frontier state, Alaska.

Truly, one of the highlights of my trip was a fishing weekend at the mouth of the Kenai River.  We drove from Anchorage in my cousin’s spacious RV (my first RV trip!) and camped out with a fabulous view of where the Cook Inlet meets the Kenai.  It was dip net fishing season, and the beach was packed with Alaskans of all stripes pulling red sockeye salmon out of the water.  We were there for less than 24 hours, but it was a memorable scene to watch.

Dip net fishing on the Kenai River in Alaska

Busy morning on the Kenai River.

I was struck by the sheer number of people that were bundled up against the wind with temperatures in the mid-60’s, camped out in tents or out of the backs of their 4-wheel drive vehicles, lined up on the sand or shoulder-to-shoulder in the water–completely engrossed in the process of pulling 10-lb salmon out of the surf with enormous hand-held nets, and onto the black sand beach.  Entire families had a fascinating teamwork system in place where members took turns in the water with the nets, and another squad stood by on the beach ready to club the salmon on the head, clip his tail, and in many cases, behead and gut the fish right there on the sand.  The seagulls had a field day with all the discarded fish entrails, free for the picking.

I couldn’t help but note that in just a few more weeks, I’d be at a completely contrasting beach on the other side of the continent in a drastically different scene with much warmer weather, much less clothing, beach umbrellas instead of camping tents, white sand, and the occasional small jelly fish.  On that beach, the seagulls would be feasting on boardwalk fries and funnel cake!  But more on that in a later post.

Back to Alaska.  Later that night back in the RV, I made us a simple dinner of our freshly fileted salmon–pan-seared with just a bit of salt and pepper, served over steamed white rice.  The subtle flavor was uncomplicated, yet somehow deeply satisfying in its freshness.  It was like eating an apple right off the tree.  There’s nothing like it.

Alaskan red salmon for dinner. Can't get any fresher than this.

Alaskan red salmon for dinner. Can’t get any fresher than this.

Fast forward a week, and I’m hosting a family reunion in my home back in Maryland.  On the Saturday evening dinner menu:  whole poached fish, drizzled with a ginger soy sauce.  My aunt was only too happy to work with the frozen souvenirs I brought back from Alaska.  The rest of us needed no persuasion to dig in.

Whole red salmon, poached and served with a ginger soy sauce.

Whole red salmon, poached and served with a ginger soy sauce.

I think food souvenirs are some of the best things about travel.  Don’t you?

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