Kushtakas & Kedgeree

Thomas Bay is a place of dark secrets and myths.

In this narrow, well marked entrance channel tide-rips and whirlpools greeted Jupiter with bergy bits and growlers riding the flows.  The water color changed suddenly to a slate glacial grey and the sea temperature plummeted to 38 degrees. Williwaws descended into the valley enveloping us in remarkably frigid air.

This bay is under the influence of the Baird and Patterson glaciers, fed by the massive Stikine Icefield. Both are receding but still depositing extensive gravelly shoals.  Streams pour icy water and occasional bergs into the coves.

This place is overshadowed by the ancient ice-fields hanging above, and stigmatized by the strangest story ever told; of kushtakas, the horrifying shape-changing creatures from Tlingit lore.  We endured a disquieting night on anchor near Ruth Island with steady rain obscuring shape-changing clouds filtering down from the heights to settle on the water’s surface all around the boat.

We secured this vessel as best we could against the probable appearance of kushtakas and tried to lift our spirits with a warming kedgeree for supper.

Smoked Salmon Belly Kedgeree

Prepare eight-minute boiled eggs. Chill and peel.  Place whole smoked salmon bellies into a sauté pan.  Add milk almost to cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove bellies to a plate.  To milk add butter, curry powder, salt and pepper, fish stock and basmati rice.  Cover and cook gently until rice is al dente and liquid is mostly absorbed.

When bellies are cool enough to handle remove skin and discard, pull apart meat into bite-sized pieces and add back to rice along with diagonally sliced green onions.  Stir gently and cook five minutes more.  Plate kedgeree and top with egg quarters.   Serve with a simple salad.

Fending off cold, rain and Kushtakas


What we’re reading:

  • Off the Deep End: A History of Madness at Sea – Nic Compton
  • Crab Bait – Murder in a Remote Alaskan Fishing Village – Carrie Enge


  1. Charlie Claggett says:

    The darkest post yet: Kushtakas … with madness and murder on the reading list. You may have gone too far north.

  2. DeeDee says:

    Dinner sounds wonderful. Bring back the recipe to share.
    Does your heat on board work in those icy waters ?

    • The heaters we use are Espar diesel furnaces – we have two. They work without the generator, or at a dock without shore power. They are very reliable and provide an even dry heat throughout the vessel. Essential most days!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *