Saturday, August 16, 2008

Alaska "Sourdough" Cookin', by Herb Walker; Alaskan Roast Beaver

You have to love a book that was meant to be mailed, on its own, without an envelope. Alaska "Sourdough" Cookin' by Herb Walker, was meant to be bought by tourists, and mailed home from the 49th state. It's another 1970s book -- 1976, bicentennial, to be precise -- but hopefully different enough in style and content from last week's book that no one will mind.

"Sourdough" in the title doesn't refer so much to the leavening and flavoring (though there is a section on all things sourdough-y) as it does to old-timers -- the prospectors, the miners, the transplants to Alaska who took root and thrived, in spite of the isolation. A lot of the recipes here are simply-seasoned -- an onion or two, or perhaps a clove of garlic -- and rely on extremely local ingredients. Not hard to see why; there was only one regular highway into the state in 1976, and one "marine highway," so supplies had to be local, or brought in by boat or plane. Far easier to use what was near, or could be grown and kept in the Alaskan extreme seasons.
Alaskan Roast Beaver

Get all the fat you can off of the beaver carcass. The fat is what gives a beaver the strong, wild taste. To remove strong taste put 1 tsp. baking soda in a quart of water and parboil beaver for about 20 minutes. Take beaver out of the pot and dry off well and rinse in clear, cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Slice 3 or 4 small onions and place around beaver and roast in a 350°F oven until it is done and tender.

I've had my fair share of exotic game in my life, but never had beaver. I don't know the proper final temperature for roast beaver, nor does this recipe give us any clue how long it will take to get it "done and tender." So, to the internet! Turns out that most young beavers take about 2 hours to roast. Good to know. Also good to know: it tastes like roast goose, supposedly.

For those on the more squeamish side when it comes to exotic meats, know that I will not be blogging the whale or seal recipes. Even I get squeamish when it comes to cooking marine mammals.


  1. The wonderful thing about beaver is that it's Catholically a fish, so you can eat it on Fridays in Lent.

  2. That's spectacular; gotta love the wacky work arounds.