May and June signal the start of summer in the Pacific Northwest. It also is the time when the Copper River Salmon begin their run in their namesake river.
If you can’t get Copper River Salmon, you can use any other Salmon you like, but one caveat is that make sure it’s wild caught and not farmed. Flash frozen wild Salmon works very well and is far superior to farmed fish. It is frozen right after being caught, and for transportation, but you’ll find whole fillets thawed in the market. Farmed fish is not as clean tasting, and doesn’t have nearly as much fat (omega 3 oils) as the wild fish. Farmed Salmon is also treated with C02 to retain it’s color, but will lose it after cooking it, where fresh Salmon will hold onto it’s amazing red/orange color. Why should you care ? First of all the wild fish is healthier for you, those Omegas again, and with the additional oils you have a much more tender and rich fish. In other words, you won’t end up with something that’s dry and flavorless. Wild Salmon is much more forgiving when cooking it, in that it holds onto the fat content, and will be a much moister finished entree.
1 fillet wild caught Salmon, with the pin bones removed. The pin bones are left after the fish is filleted. You can find them by running your finger over the fish, and will feel them poking up. To remove, use a pair of pliers, or needle nose locking vise grips. This makes it much easier to remove the bones.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. Fleur Des Gris French salt, I found this at World Market
1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. For this recipe I used Jordan Winery Olive Oil. The grassy notes and freshness worked very well with the fresh fish. This Olive oil can be ordered online here at Jordan Olive Oil. Note that olive oil has a limited shelf life, and will lose it’s delicate flavors over time, and actually can go rancid. This is something the stores won’t tell you.
Prep the fish, rinse in cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle on the French salt gently patting it into the flesh.
Sprinkle the fillet with the brown sugar doing the same gently patting and rubbing into the fillet.
Heat a shallow pan large enough for the fillet on medium heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil come up to temperature.
Place the fillet skin side down in the pan. Your stove’s heat will vary, so you’ll have to adjust on the fly here. What you want is the fillet to gently fry slowly crisping the skin. You’ll know the heat is correct because the sugar will begin to melt and bubble slowly in the pan. Be careful not to burn the sugar at this point. Now during the cooking process you can spoon the melted sugar over the fish. After about 10 minutes lift the fish to see if the skin has crisped a bit. The fillet will begin to release some oil and moisture here. Now turn the fish over carefully, and raise the heat to medium high. This will take only 5 minutes or so, the goal here is to get the sugar to caramelize, and form a nice sweet salty crust on the fillet. When you check to see the results, be careful because the fish will be very tender and will want to fall apart, so use the largest spatula you have to remove the fish from the pan.
Serve the fish immediately, or remove the pan from the heat and cover until ready to serve. This is where the fish being wild caught is so important, the oils keep the fillet moist, and trust me, you’re guests will love it.