After an epic trip from Philadelphia to Prince Edward Island earlier this month (which I shall chronicle in brief, perhaps, later on), I found myself inundated with an unabashedly excessive quantity of wild Maine blueberries. How can one resist those quiet green baskets so reminiscent of a season? Especially in the throes of ones last moments in a place so blessed with gifts of wild fleshy ovaries? Every vacation season needs a coattail…
Facing excess and reminiscing on summertime in Maine and the maritime stretching north, I decided to give these wild blueberries an end fitting of their birth. They would have a dish in homage to their season and their home. And as I happened to have a rapidly-freezer-burning Atlantic salmon filet and some freshly arrived sweet corn from here in our own uniquely endowed region on hand, an Acadian theme came together quite naturally.
Acadia was a seventeenth century French colony that stretched from Prince Edward Island down through the maritime provinces of Canada and into Maine. Nowadays, we’re talking culture. Acadia isn’t so much a region as a way of life that was borne of a place and a time. Unfortunate victims of European political conflict grappling with the combination of French blood and illiteracy while they struggled to learn as much as possible from the local native populations, Acadians were a pridefully self-sufficient people living simply from their land and no one else’s. Begrudgingly happy, I’d like to believe.
So I had some fun thinking about what might have made it to the table on a balmy mid-summer night in coastal Acadia. I already had the blueberries. And salmon. And summer sweet corn (a secondary crop for most Acadian farmers). Why not add a little maple? And for some French flair, why not pickle those blueberries (side note: I don’t actually think pickling blueberries is French, it’s just always something I’ve wanted to do)?
Out of nowhere, a delicious and almost wholly locally purchased meal emerged. From the “French” tang of the pickled blueberry to the “three sisters” grit of a good corn meal cake to the richly traditional sweetness of the maple and the historical significance of the salmon, this hearty meal was reminiscent of a time and place I’d like to know better.
A note: I’ve decided that I want to feature WHERE all this tasty looking food comes from – because that’s just as if not more important than where it ends up. I’ll be as honest as I can, integrity as a local food enthusiast to the wind. So check out the ingredient list, and I’ll think you’ll find that it’s easier than it seems to live at least mostly off of your own land…or at least land that’s being respected elsewhere.
Maple Salmon, Sweet Corn, Pickled Blueberries, Crispy Corn Cake
Can be gluten free.
- salmon filet (skin-on) — Whole Foods
- real dark maple syrup — purchased in Vermont
- balsamic vinegar — my mother’s pantry…
- 2 cloves garlic, minced — Savoie Organic Farm at Headhouse Farmers’ Market
- an orange — Acme
- mayonnaise (or vegan sub) — Whole Foods
- 2 ears of corn — Fountain Farmers’ Market
- 1 egg, separated — Fair Food Farmstand
- milk (of any variety) — Whole Foods
- yellow corn meal (can be gluten free) — Whole Foods
- a few chives, finely chopped — my roof!
- pickled blueberries *see below — purchased in Maine
- baby arugula — Whole Foods (but soon will come from my roof!)
- fresh goat cheese — Di Bruno Bros.
- Preheat oven: 400 degrees
- Whisk glaze: 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 the minced garlic, and zest from 1/2 an orange or so
- Prep salmon: place skin-side down in baking-safe dish, coat with layer of glaze, squeeze juice from 1/2 orange over
- Reduce glaze: begin heating the remaining glaze over low heat until thickened slightly and caramelized (you can pull from here to baste salmon while baking)
- Strip corn: standing the ears on end in bowls, scrape the goodness off the sides with a sharp knife, retaining the juices/pulp (set aside 1/2 cup pretty kernels)
- Bake salmon: place in oven and cook 10-15 minutes, basting two or three times
- Assemble batter: place 1/2 cup corn kernels in large mixing bowl (for texture), chop remaining kernels either by hand or in food processor until well macerated then add to bowl as well. add remaining garlic, 3 tbs corn meal, a few pinches good salt, 1 tbs milk and egg yolk. mix. beat egg white until fluffy (a stiff foam will form and your hand will hurt), then fold into mixture
- Cook cakes: in greased skillet (using non-stick spray or a small amount of vegetable/canola oil) form “pancakes” about 3-4 inches in diameter and cook until crisp on the outside but still soft on the inside and drain on towel
- Pull salmon: when salmon is cooked through, but not dry, and rested for a moment or two, use a fork to flake the filet. add mayonnaise and more glaze as needed to keep quite juicy and moist.
- Plate: lay corn cakes on or next to arugula, top with pulled salmon, sprinkle reserved corn kernels, pickled blueberries* and goat cheese (crumbled), top with snipped chives and drizzled reduced glaze.
white vinegar — Acme
- brown sugar — Whole Foods
- honey — Green Aisle
- kosher salt — Acme
- blueberries — purchased in Maine
- red onion — Culton Organics at Headhouse Farmers’ Market
- Whisk 2 tbs vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp brown sugar, few swizzles of honey…pour over 1 cup blueberries and how ever much thinly sliced red onion you’d like…let refrigerate overnight.