WHEN TWO CHEFS ENTER THE WILDFISH TEST KITCHEN, ONE DELICIOUS TIN EMERGES!
When it comes to Alaska seafood, we know there’s so much more to explore than just our wild salmon offerings. Just think of us at Wildfish as your slightly eccentric, flavor-obsessed culinary tour guide! Together, we’ll dive deep into a vast ocean of flavor possibilities and share in the bounty of Alaska’s best-kept wild seafood secrets: Smoked Geoduck, Smoked Octopus, and Smoked Herring (to name a few!) plus an entire lineup of 2021 Vintage Reserves crafted to honor and amplify the underground flavors of the Last Frontier.
Today, we launched the newest (and final) flavor in our 2021 Vintage Cellar Series, Rockfish Escabéche. To create Rockfish Escabéche, we teamed up with recent Top Chef Season 18 contestant Chef Sara Hauman. Here’s the backstory.
It all started when Chef Sara’s interest in craft canning led a mutual friend to introduce us. Wildfish’s focus on all things local was a big draw for Hauman, who learned to value the power of regional ingredients while working at famed Spanish basque restaurant, Etxebarri. At the time of first meeting, Chef Sara’s new company, Tiny Fish Co., was still in development, and we were impressed by Sara’s savvy when it came to her approach to wanting to feature less-heralded species of seafood in her tinned fish line. Alaska rockfish is a species of seafood that is not traditionally tinned, but we have thirty-seven species of rockfish in Alaska and it’s all well managed, so when we spoke about collaborating it was a great place to start. Plus, her escabéche recipe was kick-ass, and we had a hunch it would pair perfectly with a mild whitefish.
As the R&D process progressed, so did our friendship. What we loved about Sara's idea was that she was trying to do innovative things inside the can. We agreed that pretty labels are interesting, but to truly be fashion-forward in the world of tinned is to push the boundaries of flavor, and to experiment with offcuts and underutilized species. As Chefs, we’re both motivated to use it all and see that nothing goes to waste. We also appreciated Sara’s “rolling up the sleeves” attitude. She puts in the work, but she’s also transparent about her process and chooses to honor the legacy and unique stories of the historic canneries she partners with versus just taking the credit in her own brand.
The Alaska rockfish featured in the tin is sourced from local hook & line fisheries and processed at our neighbor EC Phillips & Son, a 100-year old Ketchikan-based and community-oriented microprocessor. Nearly all Alaska rockfish are certified under two independent certification standards of sustainable fisheries, making it a perfect fit for our “trace the taste” mantra.
The Rockfish Escabeche collaboration brings unique flavors to the tin, pairing the thick flaked rockfish with an addictively aromatic and tangy sauce. A spice mix of cumin, coriander, fennel seed, and paprika is balanced by the additions of sherry vinegar and numbing szechuan peppercorn for a touch of spice. Hauman’s time in Spain undoubtedly comes through in this flavor and spoke to our drive at Wildfish to try new things.