Fish Delicacies

As told by Elenore McMullen to Jeff McMullen



Soup or Chowder

(King Salmon)


  1. King Salmon
  2. Boiling Salt Water
  3. Rice (1/4 cup)
  4. Chopped Celery
  5. Carrots
  6. Diced Potatoes (2 med.)
  7. Chopped Onion (large)
  8. Pepper ( to taste)
  9. Curry Powder (1/8 tsp.)
  10. Chives (optional)
  11. Dehydrated vegetable


First off you have to clean the king salmon. Remove the skin and gills. Cut into 2x2Ē cubes. Bring to boil in salted water. Boil for 15 min. and skim off foam. Add rice, Celery, Potatoes, Carrots, and Curry Powder to taste. Then add Dehydrated vegetables, and Chives (Optional), cook till done and EAT!

Tom Cod Delight


Now fish liver is very good either boiled or fried, itís really super rich. When we were children, it was always very important to Mom, whenever they caught Cod fish, the children would eat the liver of the Cod fish cause of the vitamins (vit. D). They always made sure us kids got the liver.

If you have ever been to somebodyís house during winter months, when the people catch Tom Cods, then youíd see the Tom Cods head with its liver stuffed in its mouth. Itís cooked that way and it is very VERY tasty! Yet it doesnít look very appealing, but itís quite tasty.

Boiled Fish Stomach

(King Salmon)


  1. Stomach
  2. Salt
  3. Water
  4. Gravy (Brown or White)


Take the stomach ( NOT intestine) out of the fish, most likely the stomach of a King salmon, turn it inside out and wash it several times through-out the day, and boil it in salted water. Cook till done. Take out and chop it up and then make your brown (or white) gravy and put your chopped stomach in it. Itís really very VERY tasty!

Boiled Heart (In Gravy)

(King Salmon)


  1. Heart
  2. Oil
  3. Water
  4. Chopped Onion
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Brown Gravy


Cut heart in half and put in skillet with a little bit of oil and a little water, simmer until tender, then add chopped onion and add salt and pepper to taste. Make your brown gravey and add them together and serve over rice. That is simply delicious!††††† You can also can the fish and when you want to use it, just open it up and add your gravy and onion and salt and pepper.

Humpies and Other Delicacies


The male humpies have a deposit of fish fat and thereís no meat in that part. It is the flesh of the fish, only kind of fatty jelly type stuff, thatís really crunchy when you chew it. You slice all of it, and thereís hardly no bone in it and you can easily remove the bone with no problems. The custom was to cut the hump off the humpy and slice it real thin and crunch away on it. Itís the same way with eating raw fish head.

When I was a kid, when we went up the bay, we used to take the heads on a humpy, (where the gristle is around the nose) that was always my favorite piece. We would slice a chunk from the nose and eat it raw! I donít know if you guys (young kids) heve ever eaten salted eggs!?! Well, it has the same flavor, but without the salt. Itís always been the custom and always will be!

The custom (traditional) thing for our people, was to go to the head of the bay during certain periods of the fishing season to have a cookout. They group there and catch a salmon that has gone up stream, usually a humpy, the bigger the hump the more appealing it was ( itís cut up). The head is cooked, the fins are left on, all thatís removed is the intestines. They put it in a pan of hot water and let it cook on the open fire (beach). If you didnít have any salt, they would throw in some goose tongues, they provide lots of salt and wild chives and itís very tasty!! You use that boiled fish and pour that seal oil over it, that is up to your individual taste, you can use bacon grease or Wesson oil (tastes just as well). I guess years ago my grandma and grandpa used to go up there to do that.

The Washington State Indians processed and cooked their fish the same way. They would build a big fire and then let the coals burn down, then they took poles 4 to 5 feet long and stuck them all around the fire.

They would split the fish down the back (not down the belly side) and place it by the fire ( on the poles) to cook. They would have the fish turned towards the fire, and every once in a while, they would turn the fish.

Grandma Anesia Moonin would bake yeast bread, and while they were baking their fish, they would dig a hole under those coals and remove all of the fire and other pieces of wood from it. Then they would place dough in a Dutch oven and place it in the ground then put hot coals all around the oven (top, bottom, and sides) and let it cook. They would let it cook for half an hour or so ( Mom said it seemed like an hour!) and it would be done. Anyway, when Grandpa was ready for his meal, they came and dug up there bread, had their hot tea made the fish baked and had goose tongues for salt.

Interesting things they did, things we donít even try to do now! They also used to cook beaver and duck. Grandpa would catch them and cook them the same way they would cook the fish.


Fish in a frying pan.





How To Cut the Fish


Ok, to fillet a fish out, you take your salmon and wash it off. Very carefully remove the head. I usually remove as little waste as possible. Take it right at the back of the head there, and start cutting it there and down through the gills. Then you take and split the fish down the back, right above the back bone. You can fillet right down the back so that there isnít any bone left. I cut the back-bone down by the tail and then turn the fish over and do the same thing. All you have left is that little olí back bone, and there you have your filleted fish!


Smoked Fish


The best time to smoke fish is in the spring before the flies arrive. Thatís when the Red Salmon are running in English Bay (Nanwalek). First you have to catch your salmon, take it and split it, filet it out like we do, then cut it in about 1 Ĺ in. strips. Tie two strips together.

I smoke the fish for 4 days, maybe 5 days, depends. After that I place my fish into my drying shack. Itís a little compartment next to the smoke house with a screen wire around it so other animals wont get into it. I let it dry there. After itís dry to what ever texture you like, if you want it salty, you can freeze and put it away salty. If you like it the way I do, I let it dry there for maybe 4 to 5 days then I put it away in the freezer. You can take that fish out sooner (about 3 or 4 days) and cut it into chunks and place it into the oven to bake it. If you want, you can freeze it, so you can use it for bacon. You find that the longer you keep your fish in the freezer (especially Red Salmon) the more fat it looses, it dehydrates.

Smoke Fish Brine


  1. Hot Water (about 4 gal.)
  2. Salt (Coarse)
  3. Brown Sugar
  4. Raw Potato


I usually use a 5 gallon bucket of hot water, itís usually not quite full, about ĺ way full and a coffee can (2 lb. Can) filled with salt. I mix that in with the hot water. Itís not really hot water, itís warm water. And mix it until it is all dissolved and add brown sugar. By the time itís all dissolved, the water should be cold. You donít want to put your fish in warm water because your fish will fall apart. You want the water cool (or cold). I stick a potato in the water (I donít stick a nail in the potato like most people do, I find if I do, my brine is too salty!)Ok, if the potato comes to the top, I feel that my brine is just right. I place the fish in it, (in the brine) for 20 minutes no longer! I find if it is in 30 or 40 minutes, my fish is just too salty. Iím not much of a salt eater, but everybody seems to like the flavor of my fish. Then, I remove them after the 20 minute soak, and wash it in another bucket of water, this also has to be cold. I wash them a couple of times, then I hang it in a smoke house and let it hang over night just like that. After itís drip dried a little over night, I go and start a slow smoldering fire, not a hot fire but just a smoldering fire of cotton wood, I never use anything else but cotton wood.

I smoke the fish for 4 days, Maybe 5 days, depends. After that I place my fish into my drying shack. Itís a little compartment next to the smoke house with screen wire around it so other animals wonít get it. I let it dry there. After itís dry to what ever texture you like, if you want it salty. If you like it the way I do, I let it dry there for maybe 4 ti 5 days and then I put it away in the freezer. You can take that fish out sooner (about 3 or 4 days) and cut it into chunks and place it into the oven and bake it. If you want, you can freeze it, so you can use it for bacon. You find that the longer you keep your fish in the freezer (especially red salmon) the more fat it looses, it dehydrates.

Pickled Fish


  1. Vinegar
  2. pickling spices
  3. onion
  4. fish


When you make pickled fish, you have to use salted salmon, (salmon that has been cured). You usually soak the fish out in cold water for a day or maybe two. It also depends on your taste. Then you cube it, (cut it into chunks), and then you add the fish to your pickles. You can add water if you donít do that, cause once when I did, it spoiled on me. One hundred per cent vinegar seems to stay forever!

With herring, I like to remove the bone, you know, the back bone and kinda have it filleted out when I pickle it. The more onion you have, the tastier it is! Some people pickled salted fish heads that way, it is very good! The king salmon heads are nice and gristly and chewy! Thereís many ways on how to make fish. You can bake fish (itís really beautiful baked), boiled, pickled, soups, pies, salted fish, and canned fish. When itís in a pie, (it is very, very good), deep fat fried. I deep fat fry my fishy after I have salted it, the children like it very much. If you like commercially mad fish sticks, you would like it that way! Take your salt fish and cut them into abot ine inch thick squares. Then soak for 2 days. Then I make a batter, (I have my skillet hot), then I dip the fish into the egg mixture and into the flour milk batter, (you can mix it all together if you like), and back into the egg again, then put in the flour and cracker and then in to grease and deep fat fry it. It just takes it a couple minutes to cook. They eat salt fish raw, soak it over night in cold fresh water and have as bacon the next mourning.

Dried Fish


Dried fish is very simple to make. Early Spring and late fall is the best time to make dried fish. With dried fish you donít put anything on it, no salt, no nothing. Itís just plain and the types of fish to dry are either Red Salmon, Humpies, and (or) Dog Salmon that have gone up stream. There meat has turned white thereís no fat in it. It seams if you dry the fish that have been up the bay already, they have a rancid taste to them.

When I was a kid, I used to dry everything, Trout, Herring, Flounders, Halibut, and Salmon, I dried everything. Even salmon eggs, (You know), the salmon roe, I used to dry them. Have you ever eaten dried salmon eggs? If you can get them just right, boy are they good!! You are also able to can then but they tend to spoil on you.


(Half dried-boiled fish)


Half dried and boiled fish is really delicious, and a real delicacy. You usually take the salmon and split it and hang it. You can leave the bone parting if you want. Hangíem up and smokeíem for a day or so, and then cutíem up and boilíem. Throw in some wild chives or dehydrated chives and cook it and serve it with rice and you can have a wonderful meal! People all over Alaska fix there Uumatak just like we do, they pour seal oil over it and eat it. Itís very good!

My latest recipe was to soak the fish in brine and then smoke them for 2 days and then I canned it. Before I putíem in the can, I remove the skin and bones I put a small piece of raw garlic in the bottom of the jar, and then canned it. Put under 15 pounds of pressure for 70 to 80 minutes, it is just delicious with Silver Salmon!





Copyright 1981,Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.All rights reserved

Volume 1