Cookin’ with Coasties: FS2 Aaron Anderson

Cookin’ with Coasties is a series that features food specialists stationed at Coast Guard units throughout Alaska, and recipes to their favorite meals they prepare for their crews.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Anderson pauses for a photo aboard Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur, Oct. 21, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Anderson pauses for a photo aboard Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur, Oct. 21, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Every cook has a specialty; a distinct trademark or a favorite spice that distinguishes them from other cooks. For Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Anderson, his specialty includes bringing his southern roots to the culinary dishes he serves his shipmates.

The 29-year-old Perry, Fla., native has made a name for himself in the Coast Guard. Initially an aircraft armament technician in the Air Force, Anderson left at the end of his enlistment in 2008 and joined the Coast Guard the same year.

“The Coast Guard had saved my grandfather after having a heart attack on a fishing trip and inspired me to serve my country in a different way,” said Anderson.

Throughout his career in the Coast Guard, Anderson has served aboard Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock out of Port Huron, Mich., Coast Guard Cutter Kingfisher out of Jacksonville, Fla., Aviation Support Facility in Cordova, Alaska, and more recently aboard Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Recently, Anderson was highly praised for his assistance in the re-opening of Base Ketchikan’s Crow’s Nest while also completing his qualifications aboard Chandeleur. However, his greatest accomplishment is his influence as a chef.

“Being able to inspire other cooks and crewmembers, as well as leaving a positive impact has been my greatest accomplishment,” said Anderson.

Anderson has been nominated for, and won, quite a few awards since becoming a chef in the Coast Guard including second place as food service specialist and galley of the year.

But how does one become such a successful food service specialist?

“A successful FS is one that adapts,” said Anderson. “Being able to change with each given situation is crucial in our working environment. Yet, despite any setbacks of the day, success is also found in the act of seeking joy in your job and its impact upon others.”

Anderson follows his own advice by adapting to his environment and taking pleasure in sharing part of himself with his shipmates in Alaska.

“When I make Blackened Halibut Oscar, I love bringing my southern roots to the fresh Alaskan ingredients,” said Anderson. “With a twist to a classic French sauce, I complete the meal that marries two prominent places in my life and cultural outlook. It’s the taste of home that distinguishes it for me.”

Here, Anderson has generously shared his favorite recipe with us:

A photo of a plate of Blackened Halibut Oscar, FS2 Aaron Anderson's favorite dish to serve to the crew of CGC Chandeleur.

A photo of a plate of Blackened Halibut Oscar, FS2 Aaron Anderson’s favorite dish to serve to the crew of CGC Chandeleur.

Blackened Halibut Oscar
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 8-ounce fresh Alaska halibut fillets
4 tablespoons Cajun blackened seasoning
4 ounces butter or margarine
8 ounces fresh Dungeness crab meat
12 ounces béarnaise sauce

Method:

Coat halibut fillets in olive oil, rub in a generous amount of the seasoning.
Heat butter or margarine in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add halibut fillets and cook 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Remove from heat.

Place fillets on individual serving dishes and top with fresh Dungeness crab meat. Finish with 2-3 ounces of béarnaise sauce spooned over each serving.

Béarnaise Sauce:

2 tablespoons dried tarragon
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, diced
3 egg yolks
1 cup melted butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup hot water

In a heavy sauté pan, cook the tarragon, wine vinegar, and diced shallot over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture becomes paste-like. Set aside.

Mix together eggs, 1/8 cup of hot water, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook in a double boiler until the mixture reaches the consistency of mayonnaise. Remove from heat. Add the melted butter slowly, stirring continuously. If the mixture becomes too thick, thin with the remaining 1/8-cup of hot water. Add the tarragon-wine vinegar-shallot mixture and blend well.

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