Monday, February 8, 2010

My Guilty Pleasure - A Little Too Creamy for My Girl

I have a confession: I love creme fraiche. I know this doesn't seem like a proper food item for the healthierkitchen lady to love, but it's true. Most of the time Greek yogurt does the trick for a creamy touch, but every once in a while, a dollop of creme fraiche provides a touch of alchemy. It's so concentrated that a little goes a long way, so the fat and calories per serving is not as extreme as it might seem at first glance.

Creme fraiche is, according to its label, a French cultured cream. Not sure what that means, I consulted The Food Lover's Companion. As best as I can gather, in this country, creme fraiche is something of a thickened cross between heavy cream and buttermilk. What I know is that it is tangy and silky and delicious and makes a great sauce without curdling when heated.

Molly Wizenberg of Orangette and My Homemade Life fame had a recipe in Bon Appetit last year which jumped right out at me. I am always looking for salmon recipes as we eat salmon so often. This one seemed so different, so unique, so simple, so creme fraiche. I made it a few times and while I thought everyone else enjoyed it too, it later came to my attention that my daughter didn't much like it, blaming the creaminess of the creme fraiche. Not like creme fraiche?

I guess I had mistaken her lack of enthusiasm over the salmon to have been caused by the salmon itself, as my daughter is not much for flesh of any kind. She offered up one of my other salmon recipes (check it out here) that she loves as proof that it's the creme fraiche that's the problem.

Just the other day, while fiddling around with the stir-fried forbidden rice, I thought about how nice it would be to have some salmon with the rice sometimes. My first thought was a Cooking Light glaze with miso that I've been making for some years (remember that one, Charis?) but that recipe and all the similar versions I've collected include some sugar and just didn't jump out at me as enough of a complement to this rice.

Then I remembered the creme fraiche salmon and Maddy's complaint. Despite an attachment to cheese, Maddy really doesn't love dishes that are too creamy. She does, however, love spicy foods. Remembering a tube of wasabi paste left in my fridge from another marinade, I played with the combination of the creme fraiche and the wasabi. This is the result. It's really much better with wild salmon, and a piece that's not too thick. I also calculated the calories and fat grams of the creme fraiche, per serving and it's really not too bad. If my math is correct (always questionable) then as used in the recipe below, it only adds 27.5 calories and 2.75 grams of fat per serving.

I originally envisioned serving this with the forbidden rice that was the spark of inspiration, but it would also be great with mashed potatoes as well (try my comfort mash!).

Salmon with Wasabi-Creme Fraiche

adapted from Molly Wizenberg and Bon Appetit

(serves 6)

2 pound fillet of wild salmon
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon fillet on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and lightly sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.

2. In a small bowl, mix the creme fraiche with the wasabi paste and spread on the salmon fillet.

3. Sprinkle the scallions on top.

4. Place in oven for about 15 minutes until the salmon is cooked through.

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