A Tale of Blubber & Char

At the 4th Annual Northern Food Night in Sherwood Park, 50 people gathered ‘round to chew the fat. Literally. Along with the usual suspects (caribou, musk ox and char), lucky guests got to try Muktaq (narwhal blubber). Some guests dipped their blubber in soy sauce; other adventurous eaters took it straight up. Mmm…blubber.
muktaq guests
As hosts of Northern Food Night, our ongoing mission is to enlighten people of the types of food available from Canada’s northern regions. The northern food we serve comes from sustainable sources where the animals are hunted, not farmed, and are raised naturally on the land—or in the case of fish, from the waters—with no hormones or antibiotics introduced into their systems

Along with typical Northern fare like mikku (dried caribou meat) and pipsi (dried smoked char) we also had on hand a few tasty treats from our travels. This year our guests sampled The Oysterman’s delectable smoked oysters from Cortes Island, BC, chilibites and droewors (South African beef jerky and sausage) from Betsy’s Boerwors in Edmonton, and succulent olives from Olive Me (also from Edmonton).
chillibites & droewors
The fun part of Northern Food Night is showing people that these northern foods can be used in recipes familiar to us in the south. The menu included:
1. Musk Ox Potstickers
2. Smoked Char & Goat Cheese Tartlets
3. Musk Ox chilli
4. Whitefish Caviar on Quail Eggs caviar carpaccio
5. Sweet Curry and Buttermilk Caribou Rack
6. Milk & Honey Grilled Musk Ox Chops
7. Cedar Planked, and Maple Planked Char
8. Greek Caribou Kebabs
9. Thai Pike Patties
10. Chili & Cinnamon rubbed Musk Ox roast
11. Caribou, and Char Tartare
12. Chilled Cucumber & Smoked Char Soup
13. Musk Ox Carpaccio
14. Greek Baked Turbot Fillets
15. Pan Fried Pickerel w/Back Eddy Spice
16. Mipkuzola – musk ox prosciutto
musk ox As with any feast, one must have good drink to accompany it and it would only make sense that Canadian beer and wine go alongside Canadian food. Slow Food members, Neil and Lavonne Herbst, owners of Alley Kat Brewery, supplied the brew which included raspberry mead, a delightful little potion sure to be a smash hit for the summer (if summer ever arrives). As for wine, we partnered up with Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery in Kelowna. This winery has won a host of medals for their elegant wines which are packed full of flavour: the reds big and lush, and the whites crisp, delicious and beautifully balanced. These wines stand up to any of the big boys across the pond(s).

A Slow Food member of the Yukon convivium who owns a coffee roasting company called Bean North sent us Ethiopian Sidamo (an un-washed dark roasted bean) and the La Concordia from El Salvador to try. Bean North offers certified organic and fairly traded coffees from around the globe and both batches we brewed up were delicious.

In our Slow Food midst we are fortunate to have Tara Zieminek as our go-to-gal for dessert. Her creations are always extraordinary and this year was no different: delicate crepes filled with Saskatoon berries, topped with whipped cream and a silky sorbet. We feel that it is in the best interest of this city if Tara quits her day job as technical writer and concentrates solely on satisfying our sweet needs.

Steve and I look forward to sharing more food with more people next year. In the meantime, if you have a hankering for something different, much of the northern meat can be obtained from Buffalo Valley Variety Meats in Edmonton. Northern meat is high in protein, low in fat and full of flavour. You’d be hard pressed to find it gamey tasting in any way. So go ahead, go wild…it’s not as scary as you think.
Feeling adventurous? A list of suppliers can be found here: Kitikmeot Foods – musk ox and char from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut
(available from Buffalo Valley Variety Meats in Edmonton

Kivalliq Foods – caribou, mikku and Pipsi from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
(available from Buffalo Valley Variety Meats in Edmonton

Iqaluit Enterprises (Jim Curry) – cold smoked char, turbot and narwhal muktaq from Iqaluit, Nunavut Tel: (867) 979-4458. E-mail: jcurrie@nunanet.com

Betsy’s Boerwors – droewors and chillibites – 6928- 104 St Edmonton 780-988-5050

Olive Me – olives – 8613-109 St Edmonton 780-988-3281

Hills Foods – Mipkuzola (musk ox prosciutto)

Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation – pickerel, pike, caviar

Laws Fine Foods – Back Eddy Seasoning

Oysterman – smoked oysters – Cortes Island, BC

Bean North – coffee Whitehorse Yukon 867-667-4145

Mt. Boucherie Wines – Kelowna, BC

Our thanks to Nunavut Tourism for the gifts supplied (pins, hats and books).