Following a donation of more than 6,000 pounds of silver salmon from the Kodiak Seiners Association to Kodiak’s public schools and Head Start program, the Kodiak Island Borough School District hosted a taste test of different recipes Monday.
The dishes included honey lemon salmon, baked salmon with an asian-inspired sauce, salmon over rice, paprika and brown sugar salmon, salmon pizza, salmon-salad sandwiches, lemon salmon, and ginger salmon. Each recipe was crafted by a cook from a different school.
The 40 teachers and school staff acting as testers tasted each recipe and wrote their comments on a piece of paper. Of the eight recipes, two will be chosen based on the comments and dish’s cooking time, said Leon Wallace, the district’s food service coordinator.
The school district also will use the salmon for fish sticks, Wallace said.
The donation was the idea of Bruce Schactler, a member of the Kodiak Seiners Association, who brought it up with the organization’s board of directors and spoke to Kodiak’s processors who voluntarily fileted and packaged the fish.
Taste tests are not a normal occurrence for school lunches, since most of the food is usually pre-packaged, said Chief Financial Officer Sandra Daws. School officials attend food shows at the beginning and end of the school year.
The last time Wallace remembers having a food taste test was three or four years ago when the district conducted one with high school students, which put honey sriracha chicken on the menu.
High school math and quilting teacher Alexis Jackson tasted the recipes and said she thought students would like the brown sugar and paprika recipe, which tasted like teriyaki and the salmon sandwiches.
“Some of the foods that they have at the hot lunch are pre-packaged in plastic, so they are just reheated food,” Jackson said.
The donated salmon has a lot more nutrition, she said. It is “real food that I would be proud to serve at home.
Although all students are eligible to receive school lunches, the number of students who choose to eat the lunches fluctuates depending on the day. The most popular day is pizza, served on Mondays, Daws said.
School district officials said they are grateful for the donation.
“I think that this (donation) is a reflection of how Kodiak works together and supports education,” said Superintendent of Schools Larry Ledoux. “We certainly appreciate the benevolence of the fishing community and we think it’s a great partnership and we appreciate Ocean Beauty for processing fish and the fisherman who donated it.”
Participating processors include Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Alaska Pacific Seafood and Icicle Seafoods in Larsen Bay, Schactler said.
“Hopefully we’ll have it next year,” Ocean Beauty Seafoods Plant Manager James Turner said of donating salmon to the schools.