By Sara Moulton
Wild salmon season starts very soon, so be on the lookout for it at your local market. But, you say, I can find salmon at my supermarket all year-round. Yes, you can, because farmed salmon, which is what you find fresh at the store all the time, doesn’t really have a season; wild salmon does.
Farmed salmon is raised in a controlled man-made environment; wild salmon is subject to the seasons. You can find frozen wild salmon year-round. It’s flash-frozen, meaning frozen very quickly, which does little damage to the cell structure so the fish is perfectly good to eat. However, why not buy it fresh when you can?
The two types of salmon differ in both flavour and texture. Wild salmon has a more robust, distinct salmon taste and is leaner than farmed. It is also higher in omega-3 fatty acids, the fat that’s so good for us. Farmed salmon has a more subtle flavour and higher fat content, which means it’s more forgiving when it’s overcooked.
This Wasabi Cracker-Crusted Salmon is a ridiculously simple recipe, perfect for a quick weeknight meal. The fish is first lathered with sour cream spiked with hot mustard, topped with crushed wasabi rice crackers and then baked. The general rule for baking fish is to cook it at 400 F for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. How do you know when it is done? Stick a knife in it; if a knife goes through it easily, it’s cooked through. I prefer to slightly undercook salmon, especially the wild variety (the government advises cooking salmon well done) since it’s so lean, so take it out of the oven when you find just a little resistance in the middle of the fillet.
Wasabi Cracker-Crusted Salmon
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared English mustard (Coleman’s mustard)
1/4 tsp light brown sugar
35 to 40 wasabi rice crackers
Four 6-ounce pieces centre-cut salmon fillet, skin removed
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl, combine the sour cream, mustard and brown sugar. Add salt to taste. Put 35 crackers in a re-sealable plastic bag and coarsely crush them using a rolling pin. (You should have about 1 cup crushed crackers; if not, crush a few more.)
Season the salmon on all sides with salt. In a shallow baking pan, arrange the fillets in one layer, skinned side down, spread the top of each piece with the sour cream mixture and top with the crushed crackers.
Bake the salmon in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes, until barely cooked through.
Note: If all you can find is dried Coleman’s, follow the instructions on the side of the package to reconstitute it. If you cannot find English mustard, use Dijon mustard.