Forget seal clubbing in New Zealand, in Alaska you eat them. My co-worker Sean had the honor of accompanying a native family this winter on a seal hunt. He registered for an observer pass and took off with the family in a fleet of kayaks. Seals have seen the natives riding along in canoes hunting them for centuries, so they are pretty hip to the to the dangers of humans in boats. As such, the kayakers must maneuver deftly through the icy waters and the family member who has the best shot takes full advantage when the time is right. Sean was given a club, in case efforts to kill the seal weren’t as successful as desired.
His kayaking partner pulled out .40 caliber and felled the seal in two well-placed successive shots. The seal floated down into the icy water and the family waited until it was dead and floated back to the top. As a gift he was given a sizeable chunk of the seal’s meat for his participation in this Alaskan tradition.
Sean brought the seal meat to the bunk house so that we could all try it. He used a hibachi filled with wood. He hacked off chunks of meat and stuck them on to skewers and advised us to dip the meat in Worcestershire sauce before and after grilling. The odor of the meat is wonderfully pungent, an aromatic mix of nori and lard, it’s incredibly oily and very dark. There are huge pockets of blubber, which when placed over a fire send flames shooting skyward as the fat sizzles and burns with a pop.
It has a distinctly seaweed taste and steak texture, sea steak, if you will. It’s chewy and the taste lingers in your mouth well after the last bite. Were seal ever to come to a fancy restaurant near you I would imagine it paired with a spicy seaweed salad and fava bean and morel risotto. However, dipped in Worcestershire sauce and thrown over an open flame isn’t bad either.