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Agave nectar (Recipe: pan-roasted glazed salmon)


In many ways, I am clueless.

I don't have an iPod or an iPhone. I've never played Wii, or watched all of the Star Wars films or High School Musical (though granddaughter Sabina can tell me all about it). I can't name the "in" colors for Fall, or the newest cocktail. I don't know who won American Idol, who's Dancing with the Stars, or who will be The Next Iron Chef.

And though cooks have been talking about it for years, until quite recently I never knew anything about agave nectar.

Agave (pronounced ah-GAH-vay) nectar, or syrup, is a new product derived from an ancient plant native to the state of Jalisco in central Mexico. Extracted from several varieties of wild agave, this natural sweetener has come into its own as a substitute for both sugar and honey, and it's found a permanent place in The Perfect Pantry.

Sweeter than refined sugar, less viscous than honey, and with just 60 calories per tablespoon, agave nectar adds sweetness, solubility and moisture to baked goods and beverages like smoothies and iced tea. To substitute in a recipe, use 1/3 cup agave nectar for 1 cup of sugar; you might have to adjust the amount of liquid in the original recipe to allow for the added liquid from the agave.

This product, available in my local grocery store and also online, offers real advantages to those who must limit their consumption of glucose, like the Type-1 diabetics in my family. Agave nectar is higher in fructose, which does not stimulate insulin secretion to the extent that other sugars do, and lower in glucose, making it lower on the glycemic index -- a measure of how much your blood sugar increases after eating a specific food.

Agave nectar comes in two grades: light, which is flavor neutral; and amber, which tastes a bit like a thin maple syrup. I prefer the light grade, as it's much more all-purpose, but either one will be delicious in broccoli salad, challah, tofu-strawberry whip, chocolate cake, mango-coconut smoothies, and even in margaritas.

I'm still pretty clueless about agave nectar. Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Pan-roasted glazed salmon

A lovely combination of sweet and salty, this all-purpose glaze works just as well on boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or on chunks of firm tofu. Serves 6.


1-1/2 to 2 lbs salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 6 serving-size pieces
Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce OR 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp agave nectar, or more to taste
Scant 1/2 cup orange or mango juice


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Season fish all over with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a roasting pan, and then add the fish. Over medium heat on top of the stove, cook the fish for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is firm. Do not turn the fish! Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and spoon some of the liquid over the fish fillets. Place the roasting pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until the fish is just firm. Remove fish to a serving platter, and cover loosely with aluminum foil; place the roasting pan back on the stovetop. Bring pan juices to a boil, and cook until reduced to a syrupy sauce. Drizzle sauce over the fish, and serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Salmon fried rice
Salmon-pesto potstickers
Maple glazed salmon salad
Asian slaw


DidlogoblogThis just in: Christine and a group of friends in Boston are hosting their first-ever Drop In & Decorate party on December 1. The cookies will be donated to Horizons for Homeless Children.

If you're planning a Drop In event, please drop a note to lydia AT ninecooks DOT com.

To learn more about Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation, and see lots of wonderful photos, visit www.ninecooks.com. And, throughout this week, please visit some of my favorite bloggers who are so generously helping to spread the Drop In & Decorate idea, on their own sites or elsewhere in cyberland: Nikas Culinaria, Homesick Texan, Baking and Books, Food Blogga, The Inadvertent Gardener, Jaden's Steamy KitchenLa Mia Cucina, One Hot Stove, 37 Days, The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz, French Kitchen in America, Veronica's Test Kitchen, Kelly the Culinarian, shawnkenney.com, Thyme for Cooking: The Blog, Chew on That, Culinary Types, Nook & Pantry, Cookthink, Tea & Cookies, Mele Cotte, A Veggie Venture and startcooking.com.

Thank you, Slashfood! Thank you, BlogHer! Thanks, Chow.com!

"Drop In & Decorate captures what I value about the holiday season: fun, togetherness, not consumer oriented, not about spending lots of money, giving to others, creating something unique and homemade." Lucia, volunteer extraordinaire

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


now this I´ve never heard about in my life. You´re amazing, this blog is so much fun.

I keep hearing about agave nectar but have never tried using it. Thanks for this informative post, and for the delicious recipes. I will have to give it a try!

This tastes great with a coffee smoothie - add frozen coffee icecubes, milk, unsweetened cocoa powder and a little agave - mmmm!

I am like you - I never heard of Agave Nectar until a few years ago. It's funny I always used it as a type of sweetner and in baking but your idea for the salmon is brilliant!

What a great post about Agave nectar. I am a complete convert, and I love your idea of using it as a glaze on salmon.

oooh, this one is going in my recipe file too!

Who doesnt love the sweet flavor of agave nectar? Great ingredient for your perfect pantry!

The last thing that I had from agave gave me a bit of a headache the next day, lol. This stuff looks a lot safer. Does it brown at the same rate as sugar glazes, or a bit slower?

Lobstersquad, it is fun, isn't it?! I'm so glad to introduce you to this product -- I've just discovered it and have fallen in love.

Nupur, I'm still new to agave nectar, but I'm really having fun experimenting with it.

Kim, that is my idea of a smoothie!!! Yum.

Meeta, I'm not a baker, so I'd love to have some recipes for muffins or quick breads that use agave nectar. It is delicious with the teriyaki-type glaze on this fish, too.

Kalyn, I love your use of agave nectar in salad dressings!

Nabeela, this has become our favorite way to do salmon (except, maybe, for cooking it on the grill, in which case you could still use this soy-agave-orange sauce on it).

Hillary, this is the latest addition to the pantry -- and I love discovering new ingredients!

Neil, it seems to take longer, I think because of the moisture content. It is a good substitute for honey or molasses, though not as thick, so adding a slurry or some arrowroot dissolved in water when you're using agave nectar in a sauce can boost the consistency.

just had to comment after i read that your grand daughters name was sabina as well!!
great blog - i visit daily!!

I have heard about agave nectar in passing, and probably assumed it was one of those new age tea drinks that I refuse to consume! Consider me part of the clueless club (I've never watched American Idol, but I do try to stay up on cocktails!) but thanks for enlightening me on agave nectar!

What interesting product, Lydia! I had never heard of it.

I miss salmon so much!
And this nectar sounds interesting. I'd gladly exchange my iPod with you to try it!:P

Sabina, I'm so glad you're enjoying the Pantry. I'm certainly enjoying our granddaughter Sabina, who is six (and a half) years old.

TW, consider me one of the recently-enlightened... very recently. But now, when I need to know something about cocktails, I know where to go for info!

Patricia, I wonder if you can find it locally. If not, I'm happy to send you some.

Valentina, hmmmmm, an iPod for agave nectar? Sure! Please tell us what are some local fish that you have in Mauritius that are as rich as salmon? I would love to learn more.

Thanks for the reminder! We bought a bottle of this stuff about 2 months ago and I have forgotten all about it. It was buried in the back of the pantry and not even opened. I am going to try something with it this weekend

You may not have an iphone or ipod, but you certainly get technology! You're blog is gorgeous! Thanks for this post on algave nectar. I would have ignored it on the shelves if it wasn't for you. Now, I'm just super curious. I wonder if I can find it in Paris... bises, Ms. Glaze

Andy, glad to help! My husband made some two-sided shelves in the pantry because I was always "losing" things in the back. Now I can see everything --including all of the bottles of vinegar I have because I keep thinking I don't have any and I buy more!

Ms. Glaze, thank you so much. If you cannot find agave nectar, I'd be happy to send some to you.

Ah, brings me back to Tucson!

Kelly, I'm imagining agaves growing wild in the desert, with little taps coming out the side and buckets hanging down, just like the maples trees are tapped for sap in the winter!

I have seen this product in my local store, I'll have to get a bottle!

Kelly-Jane, please let me know what you make with it. I'm always looking for new ideas.

I LOVE agave nectar! I've been using it for several months and now I use it almost exclusively in all my cooking, by simply substituting as you have mentioned (1/3 cup/ per cup of sugar!) it's especially tasty in baked goods! I'm glad you discovered it! It has a permanent place in my pantry now too!!

Carrie, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I'm really new to this product, so I'd welcome any ideas for recipes. If you've posted a particularly yummy recipe, please share the link.

Agave nectar is one of those things that I've been trying to remember to buy for a month now... perhaps I should go ahead and put it ON the grocery list! :)

Michelle, I'm a huge fan of agave nectar now. Yes yes yes, put it on your shopping list!

Hi! I have orderd from this place twice and am very pleased to share. They have great kosher organic and natural food products including agave nectar.
Here is a link http://www.wholeandnatural.com

This is ABSOLUTELY the most delicious salmon recipe I have ever followed! My husband was speechless after the meal, then he said "that was freaking delicious!!" I'm a pretty good cook, so for him to react this way means this recipe deserves 5 stars. Thanks!!

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