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 flavor 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 flavor 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 degrees 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
Start to finish: 30 minutes (10 minutes hands-on)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared English mustard (Coleman’s mustard)
1/4 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
35 to 40 wasabi rice crackers
Four 6-ounce pieces center-cut salmon fillet, skin removed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 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.
Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “HomeCooking 101.”
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