Birch Syrup Glazed BC Wild Salmon

Wild salmon glazed with a rich birch syrup.

Birch syrup is primarily produced in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. Different from traditional maple syrup it is not as sweet and has more of a caramel flavour. Birch syrup is made from the birch sap. Traditionally birch sap was used as a beverage consumed either fresh or naturally fermented. 

Birch trees also have many other traditional uses: fresh spring birch twigs make a nice wintergreen flavoured tea when steeped in hot water. Birch hardwood is valued for its strength and resistance to cracking. It is favoured material for making snowshoes, paddles, drum frames, toboggans and furniture. Young birch trees can be chopped down, stems, twigs and all into a large soup pot and boiled. Strained and jarred used for medicine that helps stomach ailments, heartburn and ulcers. Birch bark was made into baskets, plates, bowls. Canoes were made from birch bark. All the leftover birch bark trim is a great fire starter.

Salmon is an important traditional resource for many Indigenous peoples and it continues to be an important part of cultural traditions, social practices, and the economy. As part of its spiritual and cultural significance, salmon is believed to give you positive energy and strength when consumed. Numerous river systems in the Lower Mainland have fall runs of salmon—Chilliwack, Harrison and Capilano, to name a few. Learn more about the significance of salmon from Indigenous Tourism BC here

Salmon is prepared in a variety of ways: it is cooked on cedar planks, candied, made into jerky, made into strips, smoked, canned or cooked on the open fire. Salmon is preserved by drying, smoking, canning or freezing. Smoked salmon is hung on poles and racks inside a smokehouse for 2-3 days. Canned salmon is cut into pieces, washed, salted and then canned. Salmon can be roasted, boiled or steamed. 

Teetl'it Gwich’in Language Lesson

Aat’oo tshuu’ dhandaii | Birch Syrup

Tuk | Fish

One of my favourite ways to enjoy salmon is candied salmon. First you cure the salmon strips. Then you rinse the salmon strips, pat dry and smoke. Delicious way that travels well. 

Salmon is common where I live now in BC, but growing up near the Peel River we ate a lot of white fish. I had the opportunity to visit Alice (72) and Ernest (80) Vittrekwa of Fort McPherson, NT, who have spent their life fishing, processing and making delicious fish strips, half smoked fish and dried fish. Alice started at the age of 7. When off school in the summer she was at her parents' fish camp. Learning the traditional ways of working with fish, and being sure to use everything that the fish provides. I was so proud getting the opportunity to visit their fish camp and see all the skilled work done with so much pride as they carry on fishing traditions. 

- Chef Steph

Meet The Chef

Steph Baryluk 

Chef Steph Baryluk (BAR-luck) created the Rooted Catering and Dining Commons menus at SFU. She is Teetl'it Gwich'in from Teetl'it Zheh (Fort McPherson), Treaty 11 Territory located in the Northwest Territories and now resides in Tsawwassen, BC with her husband and two kids. After completing her Red Seal as a Cook she knew she wanted to do more with her Indigenous roots. Chef Steph has hosted cooking classes and speaking engagements in her hometown, at the FAO in Rome, and across the Lower Mainland. She also launched her own company, MRS B’S JERKY, which is a play on traditional caribou dried meat ‘Nilii Gaii’ but made with beef. She's excited to share her Indigenous cuisine and stories with the SFU community.