Saturday, May 2, 2015

Delicious Maple Soy Salmon Appetizer

To start off, I want to say that first my sister told me she had tasted something like this at a Whole Foods Market. She had no recipe, but only told me they said it was salmon marinated in maple syrup and soy sauce. Then while we were conversing one evening, somewhere we found a recipe that sounded somewhat like the one she was describing. I wrote down the amounts. Yesterday, at last, I got a nice piece of salmon and thought, much like Tom Wilkinson in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, "This is the day!"

Pepper Crusted Maple Salmon
I followed the ingredients I had written down, but amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly, after looking online to see if I could actually credit someone, after viewing a dozen different recipes with tiny differences, none - quite - matched the one I had found months ago. There are a lot of variations. To start, I am not overly fond of salmon. I have to really be in the mood, and then I do enjoy it. This recipe intrigued me on a couple of points. I had a recipe for shrimp marinade; the absolute simplest of mixtures. It made the most divine shrimp I have ever had (recipe on my website, here). Considering how simple the marinade was for the shrimp (or scallops!), I felt that maybe here was a new recipe, just as simple, to make salmon taste just as good. While the way my sister told me about was for the salmon served as little appetizer bites, I am absolutely certain it would work perfectly for nice salmon filets also.

While the recipe is simplicity itself, there are many little variations, as I noted while perusing the web. The addition of garlic to the marinade, and / or a little Asian sesame oil (the dark, toasted kind) both sound really lovely. These might be something to try the next time I get in a salmon mood. The recipe calls for marinating the salmon for 24 hours. Obviously this requires forethought. It also calls for a cup of maple syrup, so between the salmon and the syrup, the recipe is not inexpensive to make. But the outcome? Oh, so heavenly!

Yesterday after setting the salmon to marinate, I sat thinking that since I was going to be eating this all by myself (my husband will have nothing to do with anything fish or seafood), what might be a good thing to serve it with? I had some cole slaw in the fridge, and I am positive that would have been great. 
Pepper Crusted Maple Salmon, with Beets and Horseradish to serve

Thinking on the sweet flavors in the marinade though, I thought about a little bit of my Beets with Horseradish leftover in the fridge. In my family, Beets with Horseradish is a traditionally Easter accompaniment for ham. Ham, often basted with sweet flavors seemed to be a similar concept to the sweet flavors of the salmon. In my mind, somehow, this just sounded really good together, so I had to try it out. Once I made the salmon, just a little bit ago, I tasted a bite or two just as is. It is absolutely, perfectly, decadently, insanely - good.  And then I got out the Beets with Horseradish and tried a bite with that. O - M - G! It was the perfect match! It came out tasting precisely as I thought it would. Despite the fact that maybe the color combo is not the best, the flavors were just perfect. The perfect accompaniment.

I had wondered also, what exactly would the marinade do to the salmon? When I pulled the salmon cubes out of the marinade this evening, the pieces were sort of candied-looking and just a little translucent. I felt this boded well for the outcome, and as it turned out, it did. While not overly sweet, "candied" seems an appropriate word. 

So this is the recipe as I made it. I am sure someone out there might say "that is my recipe". Maybe even many someones, because as I mentioned recently, it seems there is just no recipe under the sun that is really new. Remember to look for a piece of salmon that has some really good thickness, so decent sized cubes can be cut. The maple syrup can be the darker Grade B type. This is what I did:

Pepper Crusted Maple Salmon

24 ounces thick salmon filet
1 cup pure maple syrup 
1/3 cup soy sauce (I used Lite)

1/4 cup fresh ground cracked pepper

Combine the soy and syrup in a container with lid or a quart zip-top bag. If the salmon has skin on, remove the skin and cut the salmon into cube shapes at least 1 1/2-inch x 1 1/2-inch where possible. Place the cubes into the container with the marinade, making sure they are completely covered. This is easiest in the zip top bag, as all the air can be pressed out on sealing. Refrigerate the salmon for 24 hours, turning various times to ensure even coverage of the marinade.

When ready to bake, have ready a small bowl with the cracked pepper. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Remove the salmon cubes from the marinade and dip one side of the salmon cube into the cracked pepper, then place it on the prepared baking sheet, pepper-side up. Bake the salmon for 3 to 4 minutes, as desired. Mine was done - even the largest pieces, at 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.
           Salmon out of the marinade                       |          dipped in cracked pepper and ready to bake

If choosing to marinate individual serving sized filets instead of cubes, the timing might have to be slightly longer, but remove from the oven as soon as the fish will flake. This happens rapidly, so watch carefully.

May 3rd Update:

Arugula Salad with Pepper Crusted Maple Salmon flaked over top
As I was the only one eating the salmon last evening, there was obviously some left over. While all the recipes I read online said to eat immediately, I did wonder what it would be like reheated, or even cold. Well, let me just say that cold from the fridge was still stupendous. I had gotten a package of arugula, and thought I would have a salad with the cold salmon flaked over the greens. It flaked easily and beautifully. I added carrot, just because I like carrots! The salad with the cold fish was truly an amazing experience. So, if there is concern about leftovers, do try them on a salad. I don't think it would be possible to be disappointed! Another idea is to use it in a Nicoise style of salad, instead of tuna, and which I plan to try soon!.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.