This salmon recipe will always have a special place in my heart, because it was what Joe cooked for me on the night he proposed (September 24, 2008 - I thought we were just going to be celebrating our 4 year anniversary).
I think maple syrup and soy sauce are a great pairing; together they create the perfect blend of sweet and salty flavors to compliment the salmon. It would probably also be a good topping for chicken, pork, tofu, or even just vegetables and rice.
The side dish was inspired from a cookbook I picked up for 50 cents at the local library book sale a week or so ago called Gourmet's America (as in Gourmet Magazine). The book is divided up by regions of the U.S., with each section featuring recipes that are traditional to that area. I chose a recipe from the Mid-Atlantic region called Kailkenny, which is essentially mashed potatoes with kale mixed in. Other versions I found on the internet used cabbage instead of kale.
Cuisine in the mid-Atlantic (so that would include Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia) has been influenced by a plethora of ethnic groups, since Ellis Island was the main arrival point for immigrants in the 1800's. Some states also lie below the Mason-Dixon line (i.e., generally considered to be the boundary between the Northern and Southern United States, so there is also a strong southern influence in some of the cuisine as well.
We liked the Kailkenny alot! The sauteed onions in butter really added a lot of flavor, and I loved sneaking in some healthy kale to an otherwise plain starch. What I didn't notice before I started making the Kailkenny was that it made enough for 8 servings! What was I supposed do with all those leftover mashed potatoes?! Answer: Shepard's Pie! That recipe to follow in a day or two!
Maple-Soy Glazed Salmon
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each), 1 1/4 inches thick
Salt and Pepper
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
Make sure you have an oven rack set to the upper-middle position, and preheat the oven to 500 F.
Combine the maple syrup and soy sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1/2 cup and looks syrupy, about 4-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, look over the salmon and remove any pin bones (Joe did this by running his fingers over the salmon feeling for little bumps, which indicate a pin bone. They can be removed with needle-nose pliers or tweezers). Pat the salmon dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Place the salmon into the dish, skin side down, spaced at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 5 minutes.
Use a pastry brush to spread a generous layer of the maple-soy glaze over all visible surfaces of the salmon. Bake for about 5 more minutes, or until the fish has turned from translucent to opaque (we used a fork to flake open the fillet a bit).
Before serving, brush the fillets with more glaze and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.
Kailkenny (Kale and Mashed Potatoes)
adapted from Gourmet's America
Serves 8 (just make half if you don't want leftovers)
1 pound kale, stemmed and washed well
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter (don't freak out, remember this serves 8!)
2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
1/4 cup scalded milk if desired (I didn't feel like looking up what "scalded" actually meant, but I figured it was just basically warm milk, so I just microwaved it to warm it up a bit)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the kale.
While you are waiting for that, peel and quarter the potatoes, and place them into a large saucepan. Cover with water by about two inches and bring that to a boil. Once the potatoes are boiling, reduce the heat and let those simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes.
Once the water for the kale is boiling, add the kale and cook over moderately high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid before draining the kale into a colander. Use a spatula to press out the excess liquid, or use a salad spinner. Chop coarsely and set aside.
Saute the onion in the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until softened. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat, stirring, for about a minute.
When the potatoes are tender, drain. At this point, the recipes instructs you to run them through a food mill or ricer into the saucepan. I don't have either of these things, but I do just fine with my potato masher, (it's even Nylon so it won't damage nonstick surfaces) so I just added the potatoes back to the pot and mashed away until they were nice and smooth. Mix in the reserved cooking liquid, the milk if using, and season with salt and pepper (we needed to add quite a bit of salt, just keep tasting and adding until you get it right).