Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Smoky Maple-Glazed Salmon

Five years ago my husband accepted a job that would uproot us from our Texas home and replant us directly into potato country-yes, I'm talking about Idaho.  I was very excited to begin a new chapter in our lives and I was ready for the adventure of a new home, new climate, new people, and a new beginning.

The drive from our tiny condo in Bryan, Texas to our brand spanking new town home in Idaho was filled with three very long and intense days of travel-from sun up to sun down.  The third and final day was the absolute worst.  It was the longest. drive. ever.  I swear if I go to Hell I will find myself eternally driving IH-80 from one Wyoming border to the other, just back and forth all day long.  Such long stretches of highway, barren, unattractive land and sparse civilization.  By midday I had my fill of reddish, rocky and scrubby terrain and I was done with Wyoming.

When we hit the eastern Idaho border I was pleasantly surprised by coniferous forests resting upon small peaks and winding streams and rivers running along side the highway.  I remember peering down from my heavily packed car and seeing a fly fisherman down in a stream.  Even though it was mid-July there was a light dusting of snow on the highest elevations. I couldn't believe my husband moved me to such a place of great beauty.

But the further west we traveled, the conifers became scrub brush, the stream disappeared into brownish terrain and the hills and small peaks flattened into a valley.  I waffled.

Finally we arrived at our new home, the range bordering our town was desolate, brown and maybe a little burnt from a wildfire.  It was ugly and I was crestfallen.

I imagine this was the impression a colleague of mine thought a few weeks ago during a recent visit to Idaho and upon his return he said, "I have no idea why anyone would want to visit there, much less live there."  But I knew the answer and I knew from experience.

A days hike rewards with a view
Idaho is a place for those who love the outdoors, for people who have great respect for natural beauty, for people who love to hike, ski, snowmobile, rock-climb, hunt, fish or just enjoy Mother Nature's true gift.  Once I got over the initial shock of the "Idaho Summer Uglies," I found a place where the stars seemed closer, the air smelled fresher, and a rigorous hike would be rewarded with a spectacular view. 

I had traded thunderstorms for gently falling snow; the hustle and bustle for a slower pace; long, hot summers for powdery winters; bluebonnets for lilacs; and barbecue brisket for a superb local wild caught salmon.  I was in love-and it may have just been the salmon that did me in.

Luckily our neighbor was a fisherman.  He'd be gone for months fishing off of the coast of Alaska and would offer us fish upon his return.  During the months of his absence we still had a plentiful selection because Idaho is the only inland western state with ocean run salmon and steel-head running through their rivers.

Now back in Texas I don't get to enjoy salmon as often as I used to (which was several times a week.)  I miss it and I just might have to move back to Idaho for the fish alone.

Smoky Maple-Glazed Salmon
adapted from The Rachael Ray Show

serves 4
1/4 teaspoon all-natural liquid smoke
1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 8-ounce salmon filets
  1. Preheat Broiler.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the liquid smoke, maple syrup and vinegar to a boil and reduce over high heat, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  3. Season the salmon with salt, pepper and Old Bay.  Heat the olive oil over high heat in a non-stick, oven proof pan and cook salmon top-side down (skin side up) for 3-4 minutes.  Flip the salmon over and pour glaze over top of fish and place under broiler for 3 minutes to caramelize fish.
  4. Once the fish is caramelized, take out of the oven, tilt pan and spoon the hot glaze over the fish until sufficiently covered.

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