Charlie Skultka shows second-graders at Keet Gooshi Heen how to cook herring eggs in a bentwood box. Skultka, cultural liaison for the district, mastered the art of heating pumice stones in a fire while camping at Shoal’s Point, Sitka’s top surfing destination. (KCAW/Bethany Goodrich)

There are many ways to prepare herring eggs in Sitka. Freshly spawned eggs on hemlock branches, dipped in hooligan (eulachon) or seal oil, is a classic method, as is lightly sauteed in a pan with sesame or olive oil and eaten straight up, or stirred into a green salad.

Another method is to blanch them in boiling water – and that’s done best when the tiny herring eggs thickly coat a blade of macrocystis kelp. And to really connect with Sitka’s subsistence tradition, you’ve got to boil the eggs in a bentwood box.

Sitka second graders recently watched the district’s cultural liaison Charlie Skultka heat up volcanic rocks in a fire, and then use them to boil water in the traditional way.

KCAW reporter-at-large Kari Sagel attended, and sent this audio postcard.

Not too hot. Skultka says roe-on-kelp is ready when the kelp turns bright green. It’s important not to overboil the delicate eggs. (KCAW/Bethany Goodrich)
Sitka Schools Cultural Director Jule LeBlanc reminded students to be grateful, and to not make faces, even if the herring roe was not quite to their liking. “The herring worked hard to bring us these eggs,” she said. (KCAW/Bethany Goodrich)
Skultka slices the cooked roe, and serves it with a few drops of soy sauce. Although some prefer the pure eggs without the kelp, many like the crunchy, green algae too. (KCAW/Bethany Goodrich)