Maple Blueberry Sockeye

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So it’s Canada Day. The day set aside to celebrate all things Canadian or Canuck. Or Soviet Canuckistan, if you’re Pat Buchanan. In which case you think you’re being cleverly insulting, but we actually think it’s hilarious.

If you’re obsessed with Japan you’re a weeaboo. If you’re obsessed with Britain you’re a teaboo. If you’re obsessed with Canada but aren’t sure what to call yourself, well fear not because I’m here to tell you: You’re a caribou. No need to thank me, I can’t actually take the credit for coming with that. I’m just the messenger.

I wanted to put together something quintessentially Canadian for Canada Day (or is it Canada D’eh?), but I had to choose the ingredients. The first ingredient I settled on was maple syrup. I mean, c’mon, it had to include maple syrup. Then being from the west coast it was pretty easy to choose sockeye. While maple-candied salmon is delicious, I didn’t want to stop there. It needed something more. It needed to be a delicious conglomerate of Canadian things, not just two. I settled on four though, because you can only cram in so many different ingredients before it starts to get weird.

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Mmmm, sockeye. With your bright reddish hue, firm flesh, and just a hint of white marbling. Pale, fatty, mushy farmed salmon will never compare to you. I’m a confessed salmon snob.

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Okay, what to use for the third ingredient. Blackberries? No, those aren’t in season right now and they’re technically a pretty invasive species. What to use, what to use… Oh, duh! Blueberries! They’re juuuust starting to peak into season, and they’re pretty gosh darn Canadian doncha know. Plus, I mean, c’mon, that colour!

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While blueberry and balsamic are a good pairing, I opted to leave out the balsamic as it’s a very strong flavour and I wanted to let the maple and blueberry really shine though. If you haven’t figured it out already from the pictures, I chose spuce tips as a flavour compliment. Spruce tips are generally a much earlier forage though (although you can freeze them), so you may not be able to get these right now. The spruce in my yard are getting to that point where the tips are okay, but the flavour is starting get a bit too harsh. Pluck a tip off and taste it. The needles should still be soft and the flavour should be brightly acidic with a citrusy tang. On its own it can be slightly mouth-numbing, but if the taste is very strong and unpleasant or if the needles have hardened and are sharp, don’t use them. If you don’t have access to good spruce tips then rosemary is a much more easily obtained evergreen. It has a slightly different taste, but should work well just the same. It won’t be quite as Canadian, but I can forgive you this time.

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If you’re just not into seafood I imagine this would also work nicely with bison, elk, or moose. Just modify the cooking temp and time to whatever you’re substituting. It would also be good on pancakes, but right now we’re talking about meat here.

Maple Blueberry Sockeye

2 sockeye salmon fillets
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2-4 strigs of spruce tips (or rosemary)
Salt and black pepper, to taste.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (or 425°F).
2. Combine maple syrup and blueberries in a blender or food processor and puree to desired consistency. You can leave the blueberries in big chunks or blend ’em perfectly smooth, whichever you prefer.
3. Lay the salmon out skin-side down in a baking dish (lined with parchment paper, if you want). Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. An average sized pinch of s&p, neither overly generous nor stingy.
4. Pour or spoon half to two-thirds of the maple-blueberry sauce over the salmon
5. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until flakey but not dry. The exact time depends entirely on your oven and the thickness of your fish. The general rule is 4-6 minutes per 1/2-inch of thickness.
6. Remove the pine or rosemary before serving, or serve with the sprigs as garnish but remove before eating. Unless you are using very young spruce tips, then the flavour will still be light enough to eat.
7. Add the rest of the sauce right before serving.

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