Eskimo Ice Cream aka Akutaq

Photograph of Akutaq by oysters4me, this one made with salmon berries, Crisco, and whitefish paste

Looking for another reason to preserve the Arctic and the lovely, tasty creatures that live there? Look no further than the oddly enticing Akutaq, also known as Eskimo Ice Cream (pronounced "a-goo-duk"). An acquired taste served at celebrations such as "funerals, potlatches, celebrations of a boy's first hunt," Akutaq seems to be one of those dishes that people love to push on foreigners just to see their faces, like the Scandinavians and Lutefisk, or Australians and Marmite.

What's Cooking America advises:

If you are a guest and are offered some (you will probably be served first as a guest), at least try a small amount. Please do not express any "yucks" or other words of ridicule. If you really cannot bring yourself to eat this unusual food, accept the serving and find the oldest person in the room and offer the food to him or her. This will show that you have good manners, if not good taste, and that you respect your elders.

Traditionally made from the fat of Arctic animals (elk, polar bear, reindeer, seal), Akutaq is now usually made with Crisco, berries, and ground fish. The type of berries depends on where you live in Alaska, and might be salmon berries, cranberries, or blackberries. A family will chose one type of berry to use in their Akutaq, and stick with that type for life. Akutaq is usually eaten as a dessert, a meal in itself, a snack, or a spread.

"Recipes" for Akutaq* tend to go as follows:

  1. Take some cooked fish and mush it up.
  2. Mix by hand with Crisco til creamy.
  3. Add berries.
  4. Freeze.
  5. Serve to your unsuspecting cousins from elsewhere. Laugh hysterically when they grimace; gleefully eat their portion, and yours.

Sounds intriguing, like possibly it would be good on bagels. Anybody?

* Recipe on Call Me Gay, Recipe on the Kalskag School District Virtual Museum.


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