Maple syrup (Recipe: maple glazed salmon salad)
Updated June 2011.
In the 31 years that Ted and I have shared a life and a home, I have put up with a lot.
Fanatic devotion to the Montreal Canadiens, who've won the Stanley Cup six times and gone to the playoffs in all but five of the remaining years. Celebration of Thanksgiving in October. The occasional "Canada" or maple-leaf-emblazoned t-shirt wandering around the house. The appending of "eh?" to ends of sentences at the most unlikely times, eh?
But the worst, the absolute worst, thing about living with a Canadian is this:
Maple syrup on matzoh brei.
Talk about a clash of cultures. More than three decades, and I still shudder every time he pours syrup on my salt-sprinkled egg-and-matzoh masterpiece.
Of course I am kidding, but not about the fact that only in the home of a Canadian would maple syrup be considered a pantry must-have. Maple syrup comes from the sap of the sugar, black or red maple tree. The trees are tapped and a small funnel is inserted; the sap runs out the funnel into a bucket which hangs on the tree. You can see tapped trees, with their buckets appended, all throughout New England in early spring. A local farmer even taps the trees in our village's historic cemetery.
Initially, the sap is clear and almost tasteless; it needs to be boiled, often inside a specially-built sugaring house, to evaporate the water, leaving behind a viscous liquid, amber in color, with a sugar content of 60 percent. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
The USDA grades maple syrup into four categories:
- Grade A Light Amber, very light in color, mild, delicate maple flavor; usually made earlier in the season when the weather is colder. Best for making maple candy and maple cream.
- Grade A Medium Amber, a bit darker, more maple flavor. The most popular grade of table syrup, usually made after the sugaring season begins to warm, about mid-season.
- Grade A Dark Amber, very dark, with a stronger maple flavor; usually made later in the season as the days get longer and warmer.
- Grade B, sometimes called cooking syrup, made late in the season, very dark, with a very strong maple and caramel flavor; often used for cooking and baking.
Maple syrup is a good source of manganese and zinc. Unopened, it can sit on the cupboard shelf; once you open it, store the syrup in the refrigerator.
Maple glazed salmon salad
A favorite in our Canadian-American household, this recipe works well with honey in place of maple syrup, and mango juice instead of orange juice. Mix and match, according to what's in your pantry. Serves 4.
5 oz baby romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/4 English seedless cucumber, sliced thin
4 oz white or cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, sliced thin
1 lb salmon filet, boned and skin removed
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp maple syrup
Balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, cranberries, cucumber and mushrooms, and set aside.
Cut salmon into two-inch chunks, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tsp oil in a deep saute pan over low heat, and add the salmon. Stir 2-3 minutes, to "seize" the outside of the fish. Add orange juice, soy and maple syrup, and cook, basting the fish with the liquid, for 5 minutes, until the fish is just cooked but not overdone. Remove fish from the pan and add it to the salad bowl. If necessary, boil down the pan juices to desired consistency, and pour over the salad. If you wish, or if you need more dressing for the salad, add a tablespoon or two of good balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, and toss to combine.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Miso-Sriracha glazed salmon
Maple nut cookies
Maple nut bread and a maple cocktail
Spinach salad with glazed beets and blue cheese
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Oat and maple syrup scones, from Smitten Kitchen
Cole slaw with maple syrup, from Leite's Culinaria
Banana Nutella and maple syrup bread, from Dhanggit's Kitchen
Barley and spinach fall salad with maple syrup vinaigrette, from eCurry
Crispy buttermilk-cheddar waffles with kielbasa maple syrup, from Vanilla Sugar Blog
Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.
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I prefer Grade B for all uses, but it is virtually impossible to find without ordering online. Of course, any grade is better than those high fructose imposters which dominate the shelves.
Oh my this salad sounds so good! and I think syrup w/ the matzoh brei sounds good, but then again I used to put ketchup on my french toast!
Hey, I even have maple syrup in my French pantry! It was a staple in Minnesota, too...don'tcha know!
I;ve grilled salmon with a maple syrup basting sauce so I know I will love this salad.
Forgot to mention - you're at 31? We slid through 29 yesterday!
This is a breakfast staple for me especially if I want to make a berry syrup. thanks for explaining the different grades here...it was very informative!
Really interesting, Lydia, thanks. We have several local producers of maple syrup here that I am beginning to explore. Also a Midwest specialty -- shagbark hickory syrup. Do you have that in your pantry? :)
The categories are very helpful, because recipes aren't always clear what grade will work best. The salmon recipe sounds outstanding!
For the longest time I thought those awful pancakes syrups were real maple syrups. Then I found out otherwise. Thanks for explaining all the different grades, I've always agonized over which type to buy. :)
I've always wondered why the real stuff was so expensive, thanks for enlightening me. Will check out the grade thing too, here in Oz I suspect there isn't too much choice.
well, here´s one decidedly non-Canadian who wouldn´t be without maple syrup in the house. it´s great on churros! only kidding, but now that I think of it, it probably is.
My husband swears that Grade B is the only thing to buy. We find it when we are up in New England. BTW, he has put it on Matzo Brei and I shudder!
Susan, I have a friend who also prefers Grade B's strong maple flavor. The only place I ever see it is at a local sugaring house. If anyone discovers a good online source, please let me know or post it here in the comments!
Callipygia, don't tell anyone, but I put ketchup on omelets -- and on lots of other things!
Katie, I guess maple syrup is a northern climate thing -- because that's where we have the sugar maples. (or maybe it has to do with proximity to Canada....) And hey, congratulations on 29 years.
Veron, berry syrup sounds delicious.
Christine, I've never heard of shagbark hickory syrup -- but I would surely love to try some. I'll start looking online.
TW, glad this helps. I didn't realize that the different grades were harvested at different points in the season; I thought it had to do with how long the sap was boiled to concentrate it.
Amy, I'm cringing, because I know exactly what you're talking about with the pancake syrups. At IHOP (International House of Pancakes -- is that everywhere or just on the East Coast?), they put a caddy with four "syrups" on the table. I don't dare use them.
Neil, any grade of real maple syrup is better than most of the stuff we find in our supermarkets here. But I do know a few Canadians who live in Australia, so where there are Canadians, there's sure to be maple syrup! If you can't find it, I'd be happy to send some.
Lobstersquad, I'll bet it IS great on churros -- I never thought of it!
Ronnie, glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks maple syrup on matzoh brei is heresy!
Not only is it yummy on matzoh brei, it's great on vanilla ice cream and on snow cones.
My husband made me blueberry waffles this morning for breakfast after barn chores. I used the maple syrup from our neighbors, Pete & Paula. I would categorize it Grade A light amber. Maple sugar has been one of my most favorites treats since forever!
Lydia, thanks for a great post. My flatmate and I are crazy about maple syrup and we have tried to find the best grade here. But the choice is quite limited. Perhaps we have to pay a visit to Canada just for this beautiful syrup.
It is so funny that you talk about the maple syrup on matzo brei... my hubby is Jewish and I am not and every time I make it I put maple syrup (the same syrup in the picture, actually) and he goes nuts!
Rupert, snow cones with maple syrup sound pretty good.....
Kate, how lucky that you have neighbors who make maple syrup! You can trade for some of your wonderful honey.
Anh, I never thought about how lucky we are in New England to have Canadian (and Vermont) maple syrup so easily available. It's such fun to visit in the late spring, when the aroma from the sugaring houses fills the air!
Molly, I'm laughing too! After all these years of watching Ted do it, I still go a little bit nuts every time......
Syrup on Matza Brei rules~!
I buy Grade B, and I always buy some when I visit home. There's so much more variety; we simply don't have that much here.
Amy, my husband agrees with you!
Susan, for New Englanders like us who have all of the grades of syrup available, it's fun to taste and find a favorite -- like finding a favorite olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
I've heard and read so much about maple syrup! My husband told me to buy some, because he'd tried it when he spent a month in Toronto and he said he knew I'd love it.
I was meaning to buy some here but in the meantime a lovely friend of mine (a.k.a. Brilynn, from Jumbo Empanadas) sent me a bottle.
Patricia, I'm so glad you have some syrup to try! You're giving me an idea for a future feature on The Perfect Pantry.....
I really enjoyed reading this, Lydia. Ican only have my pancakes with real maple syrup but it's hard to come by them here in the Philippines. They've started to carry them in most grocery stores but they cost a fortune. My sister in Canada sends me a bottle whenever I'm close to running out. I love the one she sends,and have in fact found the exact same brand here finally! :)
Christine, see my reply to Patricia, above. I'm thinking..... and meanwhile you are so lucky to have a sister who sends maple syrup!
Bless you from one American-married-to-a-Canadian to another. My husband is also British, so I have never suffered the maple syrup deluge on unthinkable food stuffs, but have choked down the most disgusting food, marmite.
Your blog is great and thanks so much for the giggles and the recipes!
Susan, you will never ever find marmite in my pantry. I'm glad that my Canadian husband doesn't seem to like it -- or perhaps his palate has been dulled by the maple syrup.... thanks for visiting!