Why was the Oily and Delicious Eulachon fish considered a delicacy by Northwest Native Americans?

One of the greatest delicacies of the Northwest Native American diet was the oil of the tiny eulachon fish.

Native American fishermen placed their eulachon catch in large covered pits for several days. They then boiled the fish and scooped up the oil that collected on the surface.

Used to season dried fish, fruits, and berries, the oil was stored in special wooden bowls that were often carved with beautiful designs. Some bowls, now in museums, were so saturated that they still ooze oil even though they have not been used for more than 100 years.

Eulachon were also known as candlefish because Native Americans used these oily fish as torches. Once lit, a dried eulachon could burn like a candle for hours.