Canadian Cuisine: Yukon

Yukon

The discovery of gold in the Klondike during the 1890s brought an influx of prospectors from the Pacific Northwest. Newfound wealth and outside influences modernized the region. Dawson City was dubbed “Paris of the North.” Distances were too great to import food, so locals became self-reliant in harvesting salad greens, radishes and heirloom tomatoes from Dawson City, veal from Carmacks, trout from Marsh Lake, and an haute cuisine developed.

Foraging is a way of life, but in addition to foraging mushrooms, herbs, and wild berries, locals are experimental in cultivating non-indigenous products like apples, cherries, and hazelnuts. “There is a lot of use of foraged ingredients with twists on them,” shares Carson Schiffkorn (Inn on the Lake). “When you look around in nature, you start to find all these gifts; and you start to play with them.” He adds spruce tips to jams, jellies, chutneys, honeys and pickling; and makes rhubarb vinegar for breaking down meat.

The Yukon diet is made up of fish and wild game. There is a lot of bison and elk. Elk is used for charcuterie. Moose meat is typically steamed, smoked or roasted. Muskox chops are popular, as are burgers of ground sheep, mountain goat, porcupine or Caribou. Sourdough bread is a staple, and there is experimentation with grain for storing through winter including triticale wheat. Cranberry is in a lot of baked desserts. Beets, root vegetables, carrots and potatoes tend to be sweeter because the earth is cooler so it draws in the sugars. The waters are teeming with seafood and fish like Alaskan king crab, Alaskan salmon, Kokanee salmon, Arctic grayling, trout, pike and halibut.

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