Stars align for rhubarb and halibut

There are only two things besides seeing the sandhill cranes arrive and the baby moose following their mommas on wobbly legs that I wait all winter for: these two favorite summer ingredients, fresh picked rhubarb and fresh caught halibut. This last week, my stars aligned and I was able to enjoy both.

The cool, rainy weather we’ve experienced so far this season makes me feel like I am back on Adak. It hasn’t done much for the garden, but the rhubarb is loving it and growing like crazy. Some of the stalks are the size of a baseball bat and the leaves are big enough for a baby moose to hide under.

Rhubarb makes me nostalgic, and it is such an old-fashioned sort of plant. It grew everywhere in Wisconsin when I was a kid. My family could make some delicious desserts with it and my sister and I would simply chew on the stalks just for the mere sake of the pucker factor. When we tired of that, we’d dip it in a bowl of sugar, continuing to munch away happily, enjoying this ritual of being a kid in the Midwest.

When I find a recipe that calls for rhubarb, I always hope it requires a lot, as we have so much of it. Most often though, it’s only a few cups. The plants that produce the red stalks are my favorite, as their color is a brilliant shade of salmon red. I should try my hand at rhubarb wine, as it requires a lot.

I purchased a rhubarb cookbook a few years ago in one of my favorite shops on the Homer Spit. “The Joy of Rhubarb,” written by Theresa Millang, has 244 pages of rhubarb recipes and they look so good I hope to try each one. That would definitely use up a whole lotta rhubarb.

Strawberry Almond Rhubarb Pie

With these three loved ingredients as stars of the show, you can’t go wrong with this special pie.

9-inch double crust pie recipe

Filling

2/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup Solo brand almond cake and pastry filling

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups fresh rhubarb cut into ½ inch pieces

3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg white

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Directions

Preheat over 375 degrees.

Fit bottom crust into a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.

Filling: Mix first four ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in almond filling, lemon juice and vanilla. Add rhubarb and strawberries; toss to coat.

Spoon mixture into prepared crust. Top evenly with pieces of butter. Cover with top crust and cut several slits on top crust to allow steam to escape. Seal and crimp edges together. Cover edge of pie with foil or position a pie crust ring onto pie to bake.

Bake 25 minutes, remove foil if using or pie ring.

Brush top with beaten egg white with pastry brush, and sprinkle with almonds.

Continue baking about 10 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Cool before cutting. Refrigerate leftovers.

*Do not use almond paste. Use almond cake and pie filling, such as “Solo.” It can be found in baking section next to the almond paste, baking chocolate, etc.

I made apricot freezer jam last summer that didn’t set up. What a disappointment. I even went so far as to put it in these tiny cute canning jars to give as gifts. It makes perfect a dipping sauce blended with oriental hot mustard to serve alongside egg rolls. When I found this recipe, I thought it would be a tasty accompaniment to egg rolls, as well as spread on warm orange muffins.

Oriental Rhubarb Freezer Jam

1-pound fresh rhubarb, finely chopped

3 cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon 5-spice powder

¼ cup candied ginger, chopped

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, scant

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan; mix well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil; skim off the foam, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture is thickened and clear, about 15-20 minutes. Pour jam into hot sterilized jars; seal. Refrigerate 1 week or freeze.

Makes 3 half pints.

While the Other Fisherman was busy motoring us back to Homer harbor after halibut fishing Sunday, my fishing buddy Don and I were talking about how we planned to prepare our fresh catch of the day. We conferred that the mild flavor and delicate taste of halibut allows the cook to prepare it many different ways with just about any spices and flavor enhancers as one desires.

Our first- of- the- season halibut dinner is always deep fried. I cut the halibut into chunks about 1-½ inches and pat dry with paper towel. When I don’t make a tempura batter, we like a panko coating. The halibut gets dredged in seasoned flour, next into a mixture of a beaten egg whisked with a healthy splash of milk, and last, coated with panko. Into the hot oil to fry and when done, served with malt vinegar, fresh lemon wedges and tartar sauce. Usually I make some sort of potato to serve with it.

These two sauces are great companions to serve with deep fried halibut and roasted or French fried potatoes.

Tartar Sauce

8 oz. sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons pickle relish (dill or sweet)

2 green onions, minced

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped fine or grated

(use a box grater on the side with large holes)

1 tablespoon dry white wine

Mix all ingredients and chill four hours prior to serving.

Seafood or French Fry Sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup ketchup

1/4 cup finely minced onion

1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1-1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Mix all ingredients and chill four hours prior to serving.

Enjoy every fun adventure, treasured moment and special taste of our short Alaskan summer.

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