One of the privileges of living in Shishmaref this past year has been the opportunity to sample various Eskimo foods. Last night a friend came by and asked if we would like to try muktuk. Shishmaref is not a whaling community; her family had come into the whale skin and blubber delicacy by trading caribou meat with another village. We eagerly accepted her offer, which she advised us to slice thin and eat with seasoned salt.
Jack sliced the raw muktuk sashimi-style and served it with soy sauce and wasabi. The contrast of the almost translucent, light pink fat with the dark, marbled skin was beautiful. With his razor sharp sashimi knife, Jack first removed the outer layer of skin and then cut out the tough, dark strip next to the blubber. Dipped in the soy sauce and wasabi combination, the blubber melted away as we chewed it. Jack relishes anything that is fresh from the sea and loved it. My favorite part was the skin. Like the blubber, it was slightly sweet, delicately flavored and pleasantly chewy.
Incidentally, raw muktuk is high in vitamin C, which, along with other raw meat and fish that traditionally make up the Inupiat diet, explains how people in this extreme environment historically were able to avoid scurvy.