“The Last Frontier” is an incredibly exciting place to be in many regards, but doesn’t get the credit it deserves for its culinary scene. Big open country helps provide big flavors and taste-bud goldmines. Finding the quintessential Alaskan eats is far easier than panning for gold if you know what you’re looking for. Here are a few staples of Alaskan cuisine you don’t want to miss.
With 224.6 million salmon caught in Alaska in 2017, you can expect the delightfully tasty fish to pop up on just about every menu in the state. No exception to the rule is your typical community barbeque or picnic. Instead of burgers or brats as the centerpiece on the grill, it’s salmon.
Salmon bakes are a perfect way to enjoy one of the primary offerings of Alaskan cuisine. Often outdoors (and often all you can eat), hundreds will gather to enjoy this Alaskan staple. Load up your plate with savory wood-fired grilled Alaskan salmon before sharing a table and conversation with soon-to-be friends. Most towns in Alaska will have at least one salmon bake to check out, but the Gold Creek Salmon Bake in Juneau often tops the list of favorites.
Perhaps the only thing that can rival salmon as the apex of Alaskan cuisine is the Alaskan king crab. Native to the Bering Sea, this crustacean is the star of the hit tv show The Deadliest Catch and revered for its incredibly sweet meat.
With the added benefit of location, you can experience the thrill of the catch as an appetizer to the dish—there are plenty of Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s tours to consider. Many provide the chance to haul in a cage of the sea critters yourself, perfect for working up an appetite before returning to land. And, if you’re in search of a fresh twist on the tasty classic, The Crab Station at Icy Strait Point is the king of King Crab Bloody Marys.
Not quite as widely known as the former two, but every bit as quintessential to the identity of Alaskan cuisine, reindeer hot dogs are a beloved street food invented within the state. Consisting of a grilled Alaskan caribou sausage, Coca-Cola grilled onions, mustard, relish, and cream-cheese if you get it Seattle-style, reindeer hot dogs can make for both a midday meal or delicious snack on the go. Reindeer hot dogs originated with a single hot dog cart in Anchorage, but can now be enjoyed from plenty of street vendors, thanks to their popularity.
Alaskan oysters are unique, not just by seafood standards, but by oyster standards. Oysters aren’t native to Alaska. While the waters are just warm enough for them to live there, it’s too cold for them to reproduce. But, the waters are full of substantial amounts of plankton for them to feed on—making for an interesting paradox to their viability in Alaska.
The solution is a testament to modern science: the oysters are grown in a local lab and then planted in the Alaskan waters to be harvested at a later date. Because they never reach sexual maturation in the cold waters, and they never touch the seafloor, the oysters here enjoy an overindulged life and thrive unlike anywhere else. The result is a cleaner and plumper oyster in every sense, translating to a crisper and fresher taste.
While Alaska is known far and wide for the nature and adventure it offers, its best-kept secret is its beer. Alaska ranks eighth in the United States of breweries per capita. Beer flows here like the many mountain streams—but with comparatively less salmon swimming about.
Because of the abundance, there are plenty of options for enjoying Alaskan brews. The town of Haines hosts the Haines Brewing Company as well as the Port Chilkoot Distillery if you’re in the mood for something stronger. But, truth be told, beer pairs best with the Great Outdoors. Juneau is home to both the Alaskan Brewing Company and a Bike & Brew Glacier View tour, allowing you to cycle right up to the renowned Mendenhall glacier before concluding the tour with a refreshing beer tasting.
The proper way to wash down all the savory dishes above is with something sweet. Berry cobbler is prominent in Alaska and often boasts a medley of wild berries: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cloudberries, salmonberries, lingonberries and moss berries are all possible inclusions in the cobbler, adding up to be a complex-tasting treat for your taste buds.
Ready to set out and treat your taste buds to an Alaskan adventure? Contact one of our cruise specialists today, and they can help you with every facet of your trip. From recommending restaurants to try to booking with industry-leading cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, tasting all that Alaskan cuisine offers has never been easier.