Here are some pictures from my latest adventure.
This is Ugruk, also know as a bearded seal. Ugruks arrive here in Unalakleet when the shore ice breaks up. Hunters all drag, push and pull their boats to the ocean and somehow jump in with out getting wet. Then they boat up to 40 miles away to find seals. When they find an ugruk they shoot it and drag it aboard and bring it home for the ladies to cut up.
Here is the butchering line. They invited me to help out so I grabbed an ulu, (a traditional women''s knife) and started cutting "strips" to dry.
I was glad I had this job because the other option was helping strip the intestines. They eat the outside of the intestine and then use the inside of the intestine to make waterproof coats.
Here is Heidi stripping the intestines. She has already made one raincoat and is planning on making another. After stripping the intestine she will then blow them up to help them dry. She promised to let me see.
It is a tradition in the Inupiaq culture to share what you hunt with the village. After all of this work the families who shot and butchered the ugruk gave almost all of it away. We were happy recipients of some meat, liver, and yes, some intestines.
So how does one cook ugruk you might ask. Well I fried mine up with some onions and ate it with some potatoes. It was fantastic. It tasted like red meat soaked in salmon oil. I have never eaten anything like it. It was so good. Besides salmon it has got to be my favorite food here. (I also love musk ox burgers!)
Our friends also gave us some Eskimo salad to try with our meal. Eskimo salad is made up of dried ugruk, salmon, beluga, white fish, and carrots covered in a thin layer of seal oil. Also very very good!
So here is our final meal. Ugruk and potatoes with Eskimo salad with a Merlot to drink. It doesn't get any better then this!