Winter river bounty

Fata Morgana photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

Have you ever tried Pickled Pike? I’m sure most of you have, but if you haven’t, it is a delicious and tasty alternative way to eat pike. Pike fish is one of our traditional native foods. It is eaten cut and dried, or even dried whole. Some also eat it frozen and always with seal oil, or uquq. And we also eat the fresh raw roe and some of the innards. You can make pike egg mak’aq akutaq with the roe if you have a passin, or a wooden pestle to smash up the roe.

Last month Kelly made some pickled pike with the fish she had caught while ice fishing at the Johnson River and it was a hit. Some “brave” folks tried it and they liked it very much. She did say that there were a few people who didn’t want to try any of it, which made her laugh.

When a person does not like a certain food, it is okay. It is healing to laugh.

Pickling pike is a good recipe and very easy. So here is how Kelly made it. I hope that you will enjoy trying it and will even like it more when you eat it. The onions and lemon are complimentary to the fish and the best part is you don’t have to spend hours deboning the meat. The vinegar cooks the meat along with bones, making them soft enough to devour. It is a great appetizer and you can even bring it to potlucks or feasts.

Even kids like it.

The unfun part is removing the meat from the skin, which takes some skill, but I’m sure you can do it. This recipe is from with some slight adjustments. They say its origins are Scandinavian.

Pickled Pike

Two medium sized previously-frozen fish will make 4 pint jars. One large pike (25” or so) will yield 3 pints. You will need: pike, kosher salt, apple cider vinegar, white sugar, a lemon, one medium red onion, and we used pickling spice. The online recipe calls for mustard seed, whole allspice, black peppercorns, and bay leaves.

Fillet your fresh thawed pike and remove the meat from the skin. You can trim off the brown parts if you wish. There should be no rib bones and everything should be washed and rinsed. Cut your pike into thin slices. Pour one cup of kosher pickling salt into a glass container and fill it with 4 cups of cold water. Stir it to dissolve the salt. Place the sliced fish into the salt water and put it in the fridge overnight. You can give it a couple stirs before you go to bed.

The next day in a saucepan combine 1/3 cup of sugar with 2 cups of cider vinegar (we used apple) and one cup of water plus a couple tablespoons of pickling spice. Let it boil and then simmer for about 5 mins, then let it cool completely. Get your canning glass jars ready with the lids and bands. When your brine has cooled, peel your lemon and cut only the peel part into thin slices. Slice your onion also into thin pieces and set aside. Next, drain your salty fish and rinse them a couple times.

This is the best part. Fill your jars with the lemon, onion, and fish in alternating layers. You can scoop some of the pickling spice bits and put those in too. When your jars are full pour in the brine and seal them with the lids and bands. Store them in your fridge. We waited at least a week before breaking open a jar. The recipe says that they can be kept in the fridge for up to a month.

Food is life here in the YK delta region, and we love our subsistence fish. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, we are encouraged by your words of wisdom and for helping us in all that we do. Quyana!