October is officially National Seafood Month and unlike everything else in 2020, I’m prepared for it. The mobile fish market down at Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester had a nice selection of local caught haddock, grey sole, halibut, cusk and lobster. Recently they started selling Faroe Island Salmon, one of the world’s best farmed salmon, and the subject of my most popular blog post.
I left with some halibut, cusk (can’t wait to try that) and for tonight, the Faroe Island Salmon. It was a toss up between the halibut and the salmon, and I should have prepared a local fish for National Seafood Month. But after looking at that piece of salmon, I really didn’t want to put it in my freezer. I have only encountered Faroe Island Salmon in restaurants, so I was a little intimidated. I hoped to do this quality piece of fish justice. However at a very reasonable $14 per pound, I can almost afford to make mistakes.
About The Faroe Island Salmon
For more information about what goes into making Faroe Island Salmon, I recommend checking out my post on the subject.
I brought home a one pound skin-on fillet of Faroe Island Salmon that was a vibrant dark orange streaked with white lines of fat. When I removed it from its shrink-wrap, I was happy to discover that the pin bones were already removed, and without any damage to the flesh.
Not that you would ever mistake Faroe Island Salmon for generic “buffet salmon”, but another distinguishing feature is the lack of gray matter by the skin. As the better run aquaculture organizations set themselves apart from much of the junk farmed salmon out there, they are virtually creating a new product.
In its raw form, Faroe Island Salmon is almost dripping with fat, with distinctive white lines of silkiness. Even the fattest wild king salmon would not have anywhere near this level, which makes it hard for me to compare high quality farmed salmon to wild salmon.
I never ate a lot of salmon, until 2019 at least, and here is my wild vs. farmed take: Wild caught salmon should be seen similar to game – like a nice piece of venison or a boar steak. We ate plenty of venison growing up and I love it…but I don’t expect it to taste like a Prime ribeye. It has its own flavor and texture profile, and like most wild game, it is much leaner than domesticated animals. Wild salmon can be expensive, and rightly so. For someone like me on the East Coast, wild salmon is a rare treat, best enjoyed in season, if possible.
Farmed salmon is more like domesticated beef, including the varying degrees of quality. Much of the farmed salmon out there is the equivalent of a generic supermarket steak. I would rather spend money on local, wild fish than cheap farmed salmon.
Just like how you may spend a little more for Angus, or local grass-fed beef, you should be doing the same with farmed salmon. With the amount fo marbling on their fish, Faroe Island Salmon is the aquatic equivalent of Waygu beef, in relative quality, not price. For a few dollars more you are getting a better raised, better tasting, and an overall healthier product.
I made two equal portions by slicing along the shorter axis. I think it helps cook evenly and because I planned on a very sweet flavoring, I didn’t want all that surface area covered in rub. This way more of the true salmon flavor comes out.
Faroe Island Salmon With Brown Sugar Rub
This really isn’t a recipe since I was lucky to find a jar of spice rub that fit the bill. Although it is made for pork, it had everything I was looking for: Brown sugar, sage, fennel, maple sugar, thyme and more. More importantly it did not contain any garlic or onion powder and seems to be low-FODMAP. I’ve used it a few times previously with no ill effects. In a last minute decision I added about a teaspoon more brown sugar and some Meyer lemon zest.
Once the fish was cut I placed the fillets atop slices of Meyer lemon and gave a light rub of garlic-infused oil (low-FODMAP), salt and pepper. The brown sugar was tacky enough to adhere to the top of the fillets, any spillover I tucked underneath with the lemons. A final touch was to add a few thin slices of butter to melt over the sugar, yum.
All that was left to do was put the fish in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 18 minutes. The sugar was melted in a caramelized topping and the salmon easily slid off the skin with a spatula. Cooking time really has to do with the thickness, but 15-18 minuted should do.
Many chefs suggest brining your salmon before cooking to avoid the messy white albumen from oozing out. I feel like that is more of a problem when there is a lot of gray matter on the fillets. I decided not to brine and as you can see, there wasn’t too much “white stuff.”
The Verdict On Brown Sugar Faroe Island Salmon
When you work with salmon of this quality, its probably going to come out good not matter what. The only thing that may go wrong is overcooking.
This did not come out good…this came out fantastic! Whipped mashed with herbs and cheese along with sautéed baby spinach and zucchini rounded out one hell of a dinner.
The rub was obviously sweet, but because I cut the fish in long strips, the ratio made for plenty of true salmon flavor and was not cloyingly sweet. Faroe Island Salmon has a deep salmon flavor that is mellowed by all the fat, which makes for a silky smooth experience.
Thanks to Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester for making my National Seafood Month food prep so easy, convenient and affordable. Now I have to decide if I want halibut next…or brave uncharted waters with cusk.