Tiffinie Helmer is in the garden with fresh salmon

Have you ever watched Deadliest Catch? Today we have our own Alaskan fisherman, Tiffinie Helmer with us. (You thought it was going to be a man, admit it!) Welcome to Mary’s Garden. Everyone grab a snack and your favorite beverage and hold on!

Thanks for joining us today, Tiffinie, at the Garden. I’ll be picking your brain about your favorite recipes, places to travel and all kinds of things. Can you tell us a bit about you, where you grew up, what are your hobbies, etc.

Thanks for having me, Mary!
I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska but spent my summers commercial fishing in South Naknek, Alaska in Bristol Bay.  Bristol Bay is located above the Aleutian Chain on the Bering Sea.

I currently live in Utah where I write Alaskan thrillers and throw pottery, but I return each summer to commercial fish in Alaska.  My family has been commercial fishing since the 1970’s.

Mary: Tell us some stories about Salmon Fishing on the high seas? What is your favorite thing about fishing?

It’s hard to pin point my favorite thing about fishing.  There are so many.  Three of my teenagers fish with me, along with my mother, brother and his two teenagers, plus my cousin.  It’s really a family affair.  There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet.  We work hard, and play just as hard.  It’s wild, adventurous, and something completely out of the norm.  I love it.

From one day to the next—hell from one hour to the next—we never know what we’ll face.  Fishing is a high-stake money making business and it can get interesting when you have a limited amount of fish and a lot of fisherman after those fish.  Then there is the weather.  The Bering Sea is not a peaceful ocean.  She is a cantankerous body of water with attitude and seems out to get us.  Then there are the bears.  Big, hungry grizzlies who are after their share of the season’s catch.   It adds up to be one hell of adventure.

I know you don’t drink wine like a lot of us do here at the Garden, so what is your favorite beverage, and why?

Tiffinie:  Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccinos!  Love, love, LOVE them.  I, of course, don’t get any fraps when I’m in Alaska commercial fishing.  South Naknek doesn’t have a grocery store let alone a Starbucks.  I love the way the fraps taste, the way they make me feel.  I’m convinced my muse will only show up to write if I provide her with a green tea frap.  My day just isn’t the same without one.

What do you do to relax? Do you travel? And if so where are the places you’ve been, and/or where would you like to visit?

Tiffinie:  Relax?  What’s that?  I do travel if I get the chance.  Nice thing about fishing is it helps pay for a trip every January to Hawaii.  My mother has a time share and only allows the girls to come.  No husbands and no children.  So it is a true vacation for me.  I do spend a lot of time worshiping the sun, but I love to boogie board and kayak.

I was a foreign exchange student to Finland in high school and I’m dying to return.  That is probably my wish trip.  My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next year and I’ve been hinting loudly for a Scandinavian cruise.

Have yourself another Green Tea Frap and some more cheese and crackers, Tiff. So when you’re not on the water in Alaska, do you have a favorite town? And also a place to eat when we visit?

I love Homer, Alaska.  The views of Kachemak Bay are breathtaking.  The surrounding glaciers, active volcanoes, mountain ranges, and the pristine waters of Kachemak Bay full of aquatic life are amazing.  Truly inspiring.  Homer is known as a “little drinking village with a fishing problem.”  My kind of place.   There are many restaurants to choose from in Homer, but one of the more interesting ones is the Salty Dawg Saloon.  The name alone makes you want to try it out.  It’s right on the Homer Spit.  If you get the chance, order their halibut fish and chips.

When you’re not on the boat what is your favorite salmon recipe?

So hard to choose.  People have no idea how versatile salmon is.  But when you eat a lot of it every summer, you can get down right creative.  Here is a recipe that always makes my mouth salivate.  It tastes and looks like a party on a plate.

Pineapple Mango and Coconut Salmon

Wild Alaskan Salmon.  I prefer red or sockeye salmon but silver does just as well – don’t get me started on farm fish.  Just be good to yourself and don’t go there.

Two salmon fillets
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp of fresh grated ginger
Marinate in the refrigerator overnight (save marinade)

Mango Salsa
2 mangos diced
3 kiwi diced
4 jalapeno peppers diced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp sugar
Fresh cilantro to taste
Mix together and set aside

Remove salmon from marinade and cook in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until salmon is pink and flakes easily or wrap in foil and grill until done.   While salmon is cooking, take 2 cups of the marinade and mix with 2 cups of water, 1 tsp salt, and 2 cups of jasmine rice.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook on low until rice absorbs the liquid and is done.

Serve Salmon on a bed of rice, top with mango salsa, cilantro, and cashews.  This recipes serves 6 to 8 healthy appetites.  Leftovers are yummy the next day or you can easily cut the recipe in half for smaller groups.  Enjoy!

Thank you, Tiffinie and everyone else for visiting the Garden today. Tiffinie good luck with your fishing ventures and be careful.


Mary Martinez said…
Great Interview, thank you again Tiffinie!
Lindsay said…
Tiffinie, the salmon recipe sound delicious. Guess I'll have to try in sometime.
Tiffinie Helmer said…
Thanks, Mary, for having me!

Lindsay, try the recipe and let me know what you think. My family fights over the leftovers.
Anonymous said…
Wow,sounds exiting. Good luck on the future cruise. I think I'll have that salmon receipe tonight!
Tiffinie Helmer said…
Thanks, Veronica! I've got my fingers crossed for that cruise. Enjoy the salmon. I forgot to mention one thing. I added strawberries to the mango salsa last night for fun. So if you have them throw them in! It's amazing how good I feel today from having salmon last night.
Boone Brux said…
Tiffinie, my mouth is watering and I'm not a huge salmon fan. Yes, I'm an Alaskan heathen, I know. Great stories. I think I used to watch you out on your boat from my window. Ditto with Homer being one of the most beautiful places. It's my favorite view in all of Alaska.

Great post.
Boone Brux
Liz Lipperman said…
Mary and Tiff, great interview. I have to admit I am not a fish fan, unless it's beer battered and fried. My son-in-law, however, is a huge fan, even goes to Alaska once every few years and fishes, then sends the stuff back. Do you ever sell the stuff you catch? I would be very interested in buying some for him.

I cruised Alaska in June and I have to say, it is beautiful, No wonder you love it.
Mary Martinez said…
I emailed my husband the link to the blog and told him to read the interview. He loved it and I'll be making this as soon as I go to the store for ingredients.

Thanks Tiffinie!
Tiffinie Helmer said…
Boone! How can you not be a huge salmon fan? As fresh as you can get it? Plus the years you lived in Dillingham? I'm worried about you. First the Starbucks comment yesterday, and now this? :) I'm going to have to work on you.
Tiffinie Helmer said…
Liz, nice to see you visiting! I know Texas is steak country, but nothing goes better with steak then seafood. Glad you enjoyed your Alaskan cruise. For your first trip to Alaska that is the way to go. Next you need to come with me and we'll get Booone and stir things up. :)
Tiffinie Helmer said…
Mary, tell your husband he has good taste. I get a lot of men envying me my lifestyle. Oh, and just to brag a bit. I've never had a man out fish me. If I'm on the boat he will catch bait size fish and I'll reel home the keepers. It's that way with all the women in my family. The only way my brother can catch a break is to go fishing with no females on board. Then he has a sporting chance.
Anita Clenney said…
I'm late chiming in here, but great post. I love watching Deadliest Catch and I can't imagine going out into those frigid waters. I'm in awe of you.

I love Salmon. I'm going to try some of your recipes soon. You posted one a few weeks ago that looked great.
Tiffinie Helmer said…
Thanks, Anita. No need to be in awe of me going out there. I think it has more to do with a crazy gene than anything else.

Yes, the Pesto salmon is one of my family's favorites. Is the easiest, tastiest salmon to do. I love this recipe, too, but there is more time involved and we are all hurting for time. :)

Let me know which one you try and how you liked it.
Tiffinie Helmer said…
I just had to put this out there. I have halibut recipes that rival my salmon ones. :)

Thanks everyone for your comments.

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