Finnish Birch-Glazed Salmon
Finland is home to over 180,000 lakes, Naturally this informs a lot of the Finnish pastime, which includes watersports, boating and fishing in the summer, and snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and fishing in the winter. As you can see, fishing is a year-round activity in Finland, providing you have the stamina to drill your own hole in the winter ice like the Finnish do!
This salmon dish is a summer fish, and is a common preparation for salmon and pork during the summer months, when nights are incredibly short - some parts of Finland experiencing 24-hour sunshine! All this sunlight means Finns can be found outside late into the night, spending time with friends, fishing and drinking and barbecueing their catches at the lakeside. A Finnish commodity which I came across on my visit there was birch syrup - extract from birch trees which grow all over Finland's many forests. The sap is drained from the birch tree, and then boiled and reduced to a dark, tangy syrup, emerald-green in colour and zesty in aroma. Consider it like the maple syrup of Finland - though a little less sweet and much more complimentary in savoury dishes. I brought a flask of it back, though you can buy it easily online. I stayed with a young Swedish couple living in Lapland in February who gave me a lovely recipe for a simple birch syrup glaze that works equally well on fatty pork cuts and on fresh salmon. It caramelises very lightly and infuses whichever meat or fish with spirit of lakeland.
- 3 tablespoons Birch Syrup
- 1 teaspoon Wholegrain Mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Pepper
- Prepare the glaze by whisking together the 3 tablespoons of birch syrup, teaspoon of mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Place the salmon fillets into a deep dish. Pour over roughly half the glaze and leave the salmon to marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight at most.
- To cook, place the salmon fillets onto a hot griddle pan and cook 4 minutes per side. No need to grease the pan, just get it nice and hot, slam the fish onto the metal and don't move them at all until you flip them. Or you can simply place the fillets under a broiler or grill and cook for 4 minutes per side, using the leftover marinade to reglaze with every minute or so.