A Food & Travel Blog

The Yukon Culinary Festival – Local Food, Under the Midnight Sun

27/06/2014 | By

I know you think I’ve gone mad and I can hear you asking – why on earth is this woman writing about the Yukon Culinary Festival? Simple – it’s a distinctive regional food festival in a fascinating part of the world that I don’t know enough about AND I’m about to go there!!Unfortunately, I couldn’t schedule my trip to coincide with the festival this year, but I wanted to give you a little hint of the unique foods and produce found in this extraordinarily historic region, a region whose food culture is just beginning to make it’s voice heard.

This is a food festival with a difference and both locals and visitors will head to the Yukon Culinary Festival from 31 July to 3 August 2014, to sample delicacies from this extraordinary northern Canadian territory under the glowing midnight sun. A lot of the Yukon’s food is very distinctive but difficult to produce commercially, so there are many boutique producers. Being so far north presents special challenges to the food producing community of Yukon, not least of which is the shortened growing season but their northern location also means long sunlight hours that promote a unique summer growing season. The climate is a significant constraint, making those who persist especially passionate about their produce.

I can’t wait to try the food of this region – a lot of which are utterly unique, including wild seafood such as Alaskan salmon, Arctic grayling, trout, Kokanee salmon, Alaska king crab, as well as moose meat, bison, mountain goat, caribou and porcupine which are often eaten in burgers.  The region is famous for its incredible root vegetables, made sweet from their home in the cold soil along with  berries, morels (prized mushrooms) and fireweed, the territory’s official flower, from which divine jams are created.

If you’d like to have a peek at last years event – the first ever Yukon Culinary Festival – then here’s a quick video.

And if you’d like to get into the mood for a midnight sun feast, here’s a fabulous burger recipe to whip up over the weekend. I’d suggest that it is very easily adaptable to local meats, especially kangaroo. If you prefer to keep it genuine then, first, catch your bison …

Yukon Bison Burgers with Oven Fries

This is a Canadian favourite! Bison, abundant in the Yukon Territory, is a red meat alternative that is becoming increasingly popular due to it's lower fat content and because it is naturally raised, hormone-free, nutrient-dense and flavoursome. Yukon Gold potatoes give the best result for oven fries, but you won’t find them in Australia, so simply use regular white potatoes instead.

Ingredients

  • 900 g lean ground bison
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbsp 60 mL thick barbecue sauce
  • 2 tsp 10 mL Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup 125 mL cooked multigrain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup 60 mL pickled capsicum, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp 2 mL steak spice
  • 1/4 tsp 1 mL salt
  • 1/2 tsp 2 mL black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/4 tsp 1 mL cayenne pepper
  • 8 small whole wheat buns or multigrain burger buns
  • 120 g sharp cheddar cheese sliced thinly
  • fresh spinach leaves or pickles or Tomato slices or mustard
  • tomato sauce or mayonnaise to taste
  • 2 tbsp 30 mL fresh parsley, chopped

  • Oven Fries
  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes or Australian alternative, about 400 g each
  • 1 tbsp 15 mL extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp 2 mL cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp 2 mL dried herbs
  • 3 cups 750 mL mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 1 tsp 5 mL Worcestershire sauce

  • Green Onion Dip
  • 1-1/2 cups 375 mL natural Yogurt, with no gelatin, drained for 1 hour
  • 4 tbsp 60 mL olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp 30 mL green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp 30 mL fresh herbs, (try chives, oregano, thyme, cilantro, and Italian parsley)
  • 1/4 tsp 1 mL onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp 2 mL black pepper, ground
  • 2 tbsp 30 mL red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp 10 mL Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp 10 mL Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp 5 mL anchovy paste

Instructions

  • Burger patties: In a large bowl, combine ground bison, egg whites, barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, bulgur, steak spice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and capsicum by hand (mixing by hand instead of a spoon will produce a juicier burger). When well-combined, form into 8 patties and refrigerate until ready for cooking.
  • Oven fries: Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius. Wash potatoes (do not peel) and cut into french-fry shaped strips. Toss in olive oil, 1/2 tsp each of cayenne and dried herbs. Spread on a large cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms and onions in cooking spray, adding Worchestershire sauce when the mushrooms' water has evaporated and they are slightly browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Make dip for fries: Combine 2/3 of the drained yogurt, 2 tbsp of the mayonnaise, green onion, fresh herbs, and onion powder. Add ground black pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Cook burgers: Grill burger patties on a medium grill until medium-well, about 7 minutes per side, topping with sliced cheese for last two minutes of cooking. Lightly toast buns on grill for last minute of cooking.
  • Assemble burgers: Top each bun with one patty, a couple of spoonfuls of mushrooms and onions, and let your guests garnish with their choice of fresh spinach leaves, pickles, tomato slices, mustard, ketchup, low-fat mayo, and anything else you want to offer.
  • Serve fries hot out of the oven and tossed with black pepper and chopped parsley, with green-onion dip on the side.

 

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  1. Dianne Jacob
    27/06/2014

    Lucky you. Will you get to see the Northern Lights?

    I’m from Vancouver but have never been further north than Prince George, which is still in B.C.

  2. Amanda McInerney
    27/06/2014

    I’m not sure Dianne. What time of the year can the lights be seen? I’ll be there in September.

  3. Celia
    28/06/2014

    Have a wonderful time! I was a big Northern Exposure fan many years ago, and you’re heading right into that territory! 🙂

  4. Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ)
    28/06/2014

    That post was really interesting – thank you. We have got friends with live in Nova Scotia so must ask them if they know/been to this festival. Have a great trip – look forward to reading about your adventures and especially what you eat:)

  5. Amanda McInerney
    28/06/2014

    Nova Scotia is a very long way from the Yukon!

  6. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    28/06/2014

    What a unique opportunity to learn Yukon food culture. I’ve never been that far north but I have a friend who used to live way up there with an aboriginal group. She said it was REALLY cold and likes it better in Queensland. She still talks like a Canadian.

  7. Eha
    28/06/2014

    OMG [sorry!] – fascinating to a gal who was born in the far north of Europe [now residing Down Under!] and grew up shivering at the delights of the Northern Lights!! Can’t wait to read your story this year and Lorraine’s the next!!!!! Don’t know about the ingredients you will meet, but berries [cloudberries?] and wild mushrooms should make one ‘drool’ methinks 🙂 !?? SO looking forwards to your journey!!!!!

  8. InTolerant Chef
    29/06/2014

    What a shame you’re missing the festival, but how exciting that you still get to visit such a unique destination! X

  9. Lizzy (Good Things)
    30/06/2014

    Amanda, how exciting! Looking forward to seeing your post after your trip!

  10. Hotly Spiced
    01/07/2014

    How exciting, Amanda. I bet you have the most wonderful time. It’s a part of the world I’ve always wanted to visit – in summer that is! xx

  11. Anna Johnston
    02/07/2014

    Take me, take me…. If you have any room at all in your luggage, I am willing to contort myself to fit. LOL! Looks amazing, can’t wait to hear about your adventures when they happen. 🙂