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Cooking Classes and Demonstrations Whip Up Local Fare on Alaska Cruises

From “All About Salmon” to “Fresh From Alaska,” cooking classes and demonstrations in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, on Alaska cruises teach guests the finer side of local cuisine.

Guests who participate in the “Flavors of the Northwest” cooking class learn how to prepare salmon several ways. This delicious local staple is featured on Holland America Line’s menus, and with the class and these recipes guests will be able to whip up their own tasty salmon dishes at home.

Serves 4

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup salted roasted macadamia nuts
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 six-ounce salmon fillets
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 bunches of watercress, coarse stems discarded and the watercress rinsed but not spun dry

For the pesto, combine first five ingredients in food processor. Blend until nuts are finely chopped.

Add 6 tablespoons oil and process until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: Pesto can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Prepare grill.

Brush salmon with remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grill salmon on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet sauté the garlic in the olive oil over moderately high heat for 30 seconds, or until it is fragrant. Add the watercress, and stir the mixture until it is combined well. Sauté the watercress, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is just wilted, and season it with salt and pepper.

To serve, put sautéed watercress in the center of 4 plates. Top with the salmon and spoon pesto around. Serve with basmati rice alongside.

Onboard, salmon is served up in a variety of ways

Onboard, salmon is served up in a variety of ways.

In the “Simply Salmon” class, this easy recipe is taught to guests learning how to prepare salmon.



For the salmon:
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chopped onions
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup chopped celery
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
Salt to taste
Peppercorns to taste
2 to 4 salmon fillets or steaks

Honey Dijon Cream:
1 cup sour cream (low fat is fine or you can use plain yogurt for even less fat)
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lime zest

In a large skillet heat the butter, add the vegetables and cook 5 minutes. Add the water, wine and seasonings and simmer another 5 minutes.

Wrap the salmon in cheesecloth and place in the boiling liquid. Lower the heat, cover and simmer gently about 15 minutes, or 5 minutes per pound.

Remove the salmon carefully, unwrap and refrigerate until cold.

Combine all ingredients and stir to blend. Sauce can be prepared one to two days in advance. When ready to serve heat until just warm. Do not boil.

Place salmon on a serving platter and drizzle with the cream sauce. Garnish with fresh minced chives or basil and serve.

Wild Berries and Bread-and-Butter PuddingThose with a sweet tooth can make the mouth-watering Wild Berries and Bread-and-Butter Pudding recipe that’s also taught in the Flavors of the Northwest class.


2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
8 ounces sourdough bread
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
¼ cup currants
1¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
3 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Yukon Jack liqueur

Mix together cream, sugar and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and heat until warm. Very slowly whisk in hot liquid into the egg yolks.

Cut the loaf of bread in half and immerse in the batter to moisten. Squeeze lightly to remove excess batter and transfer to a large bowl. Tear the bread into rough 1-inch pieces. Add the apple, currants, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, Yukon Jack and mix well.

Add the batter and mix well. Place the mixture in a buttered dish and bake for about 45 minutes at 350° F. Cool slightly and lace with some Yukon whiskey. Serve with berry compote.

Alaska Berry Compote
2 ounces marionberries
2 ounces blueberries
2 ounces raspberries
2 ounces wild strawberries
4 ounces sugar
2 ounces crème de cassis

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 2 hours.

The Culinary Arts Center is an impressive show kitchen at sea that rivals the finest kitchens on land. Like salmon in Alaska, guests on each cruise are treated to classes that feature local cuisine depending on the region. In the Caribbean that could mean jerk pork, empanadas in South America, clam chowder in Canada & New England or a Pavlova dessert in Australia & New Zealand.

Do you like going to the cooking classes and demos onboard? What’s the best dish you’ve learned to prepare?

  • steve jacobson

    could you post the salmon chowder recipe that we had on our recent Alaska cruise?

  • PatriciaB

    We love HAL cooking classes.
    On the Zuiderdam this July we had a super time with Chef Tournant Mani and Hostess Meredith, both of whom did the best job ever!
    The Pinnacle lunch which Mani cooked for the group was one of the best meals of the week!

  • DebJ

    Love the bread pudding we had on our cruise, it looked like this recipe

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