As we close our eleventh year of business, we are reflecting on the diverse and loving community that has supported us. Whether you joined in our earliest years when we delivered fish out of the back of our own cars or joined us last month, we are thankful for your support of a better seafood system that enriches fishing communities and respects the limits of the sea.
This year we shared stories across Alaska, beginning with the sinking of fisherman Cale LaDuke’s F/V Saami. Along the way we talked to fishermen about the impact of climate change and learned how indigenous communities in southeast Alaska are empowering a new generation of scientists and activists.
This time of year the days are short and we all turn to celebrations with our families and communities. If you are like us, you also take stock of your freezer and consider just how to infuse wild Alaska seafood into your holiday plans. Many of you generously shared your holiday seafood traditions and they express the range of experiences of a diverse membership united by a love of wild seafood.
The Golden State
While living in the Bay area, member Kathy Mason had easy access to the bounty of seafood offered by the Pacific Ocean. She recently relocated to Yucca Valley, nestled in the heart of southern California’s high desert just outside Joshua Tree National Park. With the port of Los Angeles more than two hours away, ocean access isn’t as easy in the desert as it was in the Bay area, but if you have a road to your town we can deliver premium seafood to just about anywhere.
Kathy loves to serve slow cooked salmon with lemon relish during the holidays, adapted from Alice Water’s classic Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. To brighten up the winter table, Kathy also makes a cherry salsa to bring a sweet spin on an entertaining standard.
Members Marcus and Rigoberto Zarco live and work in the greater Chicagoland area, but their hearts remain in Texas. Rigoberto loves Grace Parisi’s chowder recipe, which Marcus cooks for him during the first good chill of the year. The couple usually spend the holidays travelling the I-35 corridor in Texas to visit Marcus’s family, from the Rio Grande Valley north to Dallas-Fort Worth, but the pandemic suspended their usual festivities.
Although the gatherings became smaller, the culinary offerings remain impressive. Marcus puts a wild Alaska spin on mac n’ cheese during Thanksgiving by adding spot shrimp to the classic dish. Rigoberto’s brother smokes salmon for Christmas festivities and Marcus bakes up golden salmon en croute pies throughout the holiday season.
Member Mary Jo Dagney’s table rounds out our trek through the lower 48, with a Mid-Atlantic staple: antipasto. Mary Jo hosts a monthly game of canasta with a core group that began in the 1990s. Mary Jo makes sure to always share a meal and a simple spread of our own smoked salmon with raw veggies and pickles served with homemade bagels.
Although smoked salmon is cooked in the process, Mary Jo’s antipasto spread is a great place to highlight the three C’s of raw fish preparation: crudo, carpaccio, and ceviche. If terrestrial proteins take center stage during your festivities, wild seafood can serve as supporting roles to whet the appetites of your dinner guests while they await the main course.
Fisherman-owner Stu Weathers has a holiday dish that few folks outside of southeast Alaska have had the opportunity to try: herring roe salad. Stu compares it to a Waldorf or potato salad with a heavy mayonnaise base infused with briny roe that has become a local tradition in Sitka.
While you may not have access to herring roe, the fish is a keystone species in the north Pacific ecosystem. As our own Emma Bruhl wrote, herring are the fish that fed your fish. Whether you enjoyed wild halibut, cod, or salmon this year, we all benefit from the herring roe that fill the waters of southeast Alaska every spring.
Happy New Year!
Thank you all for eleven wild years. We are already hard at work sourcing the highest quality, sustainable, wild seafood for our first 12-month subscription season in 2022. Whether you live in the desert or New England and all points in between, our fishermen, trusted partners, and staff are busy getting your January boxes ready. Cheers!
Grace in the Kitchen
When my mom was alive, Christmas baking started as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes and roasting pan were dried and put away. To get a jump on the holidays, most people bought electronics on Black Friday; my mom, on the other hand, bought butter, sugar, and nuts.
There were dozens of discs of cookie dough in the freezer — all ready to roll, shape, and bake in the final weeks before Christmas. At her most ambitious, she made double batches of 17 varieties — we’re talking thousands of cookies! Every visit to family and friends was accompanied by a plate of cookies.
In my mom’s absence, I’ve picked up the cookie mantle, albeit in a limited capacity — I think I made 10 varieties one year — woohoo! Here’s one I’d like to share with you to bake and decorate with your family and friends.
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!
Grace's Sugar Cookies
Makes about 3 Dozen
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Food coloring and sprinkles for decorating
In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated
sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the separated egg yolks, (reserve
the whites for the icing) the vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Add the flour and beat on
low speed to combine. Divide the dough into 3 discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until
chilled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one disc of dough at a time, on a floured surface, roll the dough ¼-inch thick. Stamp out as many cookies as possible and transfer them to a baking sheet 1-inch apart. Gather the scraps and reroll more cookies. Bake the cookies in the center of the oven until golden, 12 to14 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough, rerolling the scraps.
Make the icing: in a bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. It will be thick.
Divide the icing into bowls and add food coloring to each. Glaze the cookies with one solid color then pipe dots or lines onto the wet glaze. Decorate with sprinkles. The cookies can be stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.