By Gail Gordon Oliver
With spring comes wild Pacific salmon season. Take advantage of its deliciousness when it’s available. This is an easy, elegant and tasty recipe. Roasting the salmon in a preheated, very hot pan results in moist, tender flesh and fabulously good-to-eat, crispy skin. You can also make this dish on the grill. Just heat a cast iron pan on the grill over medium-high heat and take it from there.
Note: Please do our oceans a favour and check out whether the fish you’re purchasing is sustainable. Avoid buying Atlantic salmon and instead go for wild or sustainably farmed B.C. (one of the best I’ve tried is Kuterra Land-Raised™ salmon) or Alaskan salmon. Check out the Ocean Wise Recommended list for fish and seafood prior to purchase (www.oceanwise.ca/seafood).
Makes 4 servings
Spicy tartar sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp wasabi powder (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp minced cornichons (not sweet gherkins) or capers
1 tbsp minced spring onion, shallot, onion or green onion
1/2 tsp salt, plus more if needed
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 salmon, Arctic char, rainbow trout or steelhead trout filets, skin on, about 7 ounces each (see note, above), rinsed and dried well
3/4 cup pecans (plain or maple-roasted), chopped
Preheat the oven to 400º F. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, wasabi powder (if using), cornichons, onion, salt and pepper. Place about one teaspoon of the prepared tartar sauce onto each filet. Using a pastry brush, brush the tartar sauce evenly over the top surface of the fish. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top. Set aside the remaining tartar sauce.
Heat a large cast-iron pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Place the filets onto the pan, skin-side down. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the salmon yields slightly to the touch but is not totally firm, 10 to 15 minutes. (Less is better than more when it comes to many types of fish; the centre of the salmon should still be slightly translucent instead of totally opaque). Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining tartar sauce.