Dec 22 2008

Do restaurants in Alaska serve wild game food? If so, what kinds? Yummy.?

Published by at 6:50 pm under Alaska

Moose, Deer, Bear, Penguin or Whale?

Basically, no.

The reason is that wild game meat can not be sold or bartered. That is state law and a condition of all hunting licenses. So while there are both commercial and sport fishing, there is only "sport" hunting (plus personal subsistance hunting). "Market hunting" to feed gold miners around 1900 exterminated musk ox in Alaska (they were reintroduced from Eurasia in the 1930's) and greatly reduced animal stocks in many areas.

Reindeer sausage is as close as it gets. Very similar to indigenous caribou, they were introduced from Lappland to give Native Western Alaskans something to herd, eat and sell. Tastes just like caribou to me. Served in restaurants with breakfast, usually. Also sold in stores.

I've had moose, mountain goat, Dall sheep and caribou. All from hunters or their families. Moose is tough and chewy. And very lean. A few choice parts are somewhat tender, but the rest is best used as burgers or sausage, IMO, with some lard/suet added for flavor and to make it less dry.

Sheep and goat are tasty and tender. Which is odd, but domestic goat, well, tastes like a goat and domestic sheep (mutton) is strongly flavored (why we eat lamb instead). Of course, their diet is lot different a farm animal.

I haven't had bear, but everyone who's tried fall bear in salmon areas says it tastes like dead fish (you are what you eat, apparently). Spring bear apparently tastes fine, but needs some serious cooking. Like hours in the pressure cooker.

Penguins only occur in the southern hemisphere, but our puffins, cormarants, etc aren't popular menu items.

Whales can be taken by some Native groups. I helped butcher one in Barrow years ago. 50 tons is a lot of whale meat and blubber! I ate some muk-tuk, which is cooked whale blubber. I think it is an aquired taste that I haven't aquired yet. Incredibly fatty except for the skin itself which is a little softer than a boiled shoe. Washed down with the ever-present Orange Crush soda. Not my cup of tea.

We also have "low-bush moose" (rabbits you bag when you weren't successful in getting a real moose), ptarmagin, grouse and beaver. Apparently beaver is tasty, but porcupine tastes like turpentine (they eat conifers). Muskrat is dark and fatty and rich tasting. Very similar to duck.

Oh, and we get a lot of waterfowl migrating through. Ducks and geese are hunted from blinds. Swans aren't legal, though.

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