Salmon and peas is a classic New England pairing that's traditionally eaten in Maine on the Fourth of July as a final hurrah to the all too brief season. Usually after the Fourth, the temperature climbs and the peas are done, at which point everyone moves onto sweet corn and tomatoes.
Here, I've taken that Maine tradition and combined it with my go-to method for cooking fish—oven-broiling—for a summery recipe that's as appropriate for an Independence Day get-together as for a weekday dinner.
A note on the fish: Salmon is a controversial fish to eat, as almost all Atlantic salmon sold in stores is farm-raised. I happen to believe that it's a beautiful, healthy, and delicious fish that, if sustainably raised by an environmentally-conscious company, has a place on our table.
There are quite a few sources for really top-notch, sustainably-raised Atlantic salmon, and a good place to start is on Seafood Watch, a website run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium that maintains an updated list of all the fish they recommend eating (and sadly all the fish they recommend not eating). If you don't love salmon, any rich, oily fish such as mackerel or bluefish would also work.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then blanch the snap peas quickly, until just turned bright green. Drain and spread out on a plate to cool (put them in fridge if you have room or simply leave them out on a countertop).
Spoon the crème fraîche into a bowl and blend in the lemon juice and lemon zest, fresh cracked black pepper, and horseradish or herbs if using. The crème fraiche should loosen and become thinner in consistency.
Pat the salmon dry and place on a broiler tray lined with tin foil skin side up. Drizzle the olive oil over the skin and massage it in with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Broil it for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. At the end, the flesh on the bottom should be just cooked but still juicy and the skin crispy and bubbly and edible.
Place the fish skin side down (or remove the skin if you don’t like it) and spoon a little of the crème fraîche over the hot fish. Toss the snap peas in the remaining dressing and place over the salmon. Serve and eat immediately, or let it sit for a little bit—it will still be delicious if it cools down to room temperature.