Frieda Byars Oriental Halibut Salad

by Frieda Byars, Winner of the 2006 Fish Alaska Reader Recipe Contest

Serves 15

Bake 2 pounds halibut at 350º for 15 minutes. Remove all skin and bones and the brown fish fat from the halibut. Break into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Peanut Sauce Salad Dressing
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups Oriental sweet red pepper sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tsp fresh garlic minced or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice from 4 fresh limes
Juice from 2 fresh lemons
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 medium sweet onion
Hot pepper flakes to taste

Fry the diced onion until golden brown in the 1/3 cup sesame oil for about five minutes. Add the red pepper sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce and garlic to the onion. Boil on medium for about ten minutes. Add the vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice and pepper flakes, and the 1/4 cup of sesame oil and boil for five more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

5 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
3 bunches green onions, sliced thin
4 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 package broccoli slaw or 1 package cabbage slaw or 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
2 bunches fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cucumber, sliced thin lengthwise
1 cup surimi or crab meat
3 cups medium cooked, peeled shrimp

Wash and drain all ingredients, then mix them together. Lightly toss the halibut in with the salad and serve topped with the peanut sauce salad dressing. Sprinkle with cashew pieces.


When Anchorage resident Frieda Byars arrived at the Kincaid Grill to prepare her Oriental Halibut Salad for the final cook-off in the 2006 Fish Alaska recipe contest, she never dreamed her recipe would eventually send her to the banks of the Newhalen River near the village of Iliamna. But, as a part of her grand-prize package, Frieda and husband Anatoliy were off to Rainbow King Lodge for a weekend stay. Surrounded by thousands of miles of pristine wilderness, Rainbow King Lodge sits on the shores of Lake Iliamna, an hour’s flight from Anchorage. The lodge caters to a wide-variety of anglers, including daily fly-outs, remote day-floats, or trips up the Newhalen on one of their twenty jet sleds in every package.

Before winning the trip, though, Frieda Byars had never thought of herself as any kind of sport angler.

“I am from Pilot Point, a little village in Bristol Bay,” she explained, “and we grew up set-netting. You can’t even compare the styles.” 

She got her chance to give the rod-and-reel methods a try right away at Rainbow King, as the staff had her decked out with waders, boots, and fly rod within minutes of arrival. Together with her personal guide, Frieda was taken to a private lease the lodge has arranged with the local Native corporation on the banks of the Newhalen. “The Gorge,” as it’s known, was absolutely stuffed with salmon.

“I’ve never seen so many fish rolling up and out of the water,” she said in recalling that first day on the water.”What a beautiful sight.”

After a quick lesson in casting and the operation of her equipment – remember, before stepping into the waters of the Newhalen, Frieda had never even held a fly outfit before – she was turned loose to work the sockeye hole. 

Without another angler in sight, and with thousands upon thousands of salmon nosing past her location, Frieda had netted a limit of healthy reds within the first hour. Then a lunch of hot soup and sandwiches prepared streamside by the guide and it was time to return to the lodge, to get ready for dinner, of course. 

By the time the lodge staff showed up at her door the next morning with a steaming pot of coffee in tow, Frieda admits she’d begun to feel a bit guilty about indulging in such comfort and pleasure.

“The staff at Rainbow King were so knowledgeable and helpful with everything,” she continued. “From the manager, Gus, to the cooks, servers, and the fishing guides, we were treated unbelievably well.”

For her full-day’s fishing, with a choice between a fly-out to one of a number of wilderness streams and a return to the sockeye on the Newhalen, Frieda took less than a second to decide on the latter.

“It was a blessing to be able to go and get my own winter supply of fish,” she reported after another day on the water yielded another limit. “I was sad that I wouldn’t have my customary supply this year, but I’m all set now. I did crack my knuckles a few times, though.”

In the end, the trip to Rainbow King was more than worth the effort Frieda put into her recipe for the Fish Alaska contest.

“It was an experience I really cannot put into words,” she finished. “It was flabbergasting and fabulous!” 


What Frieda WON

2006 Grand Prize Package 
Valued at Over $10,000

Trip for 2 for three days, 2 nights to the Rainbow King Lodge in Iliamna with roundtrip air for two from PenAir

Trip for 2 to Valdez with roundtrip air provided by ERA Aviation, two nights at the Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn, a half-day charter from Northern Magic Charters and two silver salmon derby tickets from the Valdez Fish Derbies

HUGE gift basket from the Allen & Petersen Cooking and Appliance Center

Bradley Stainless Steel Smoker

Foodsaver Gamesaver Turbo Vacuum Packer

One Day Raft Rental from Alaska Raft & Kayak

Two night stay at the Spit Road Lodge in Homer

Lamiglas Kenai Special rod

Gift Certificate to B&J’s Alaska Outfitters in Anchorage

Two Seward Silver Salmon Derby Tickets

Four bottles of wine from Bill & Dorothy Fry, owners of Bear Creek Winery