If the Northwest has one thing in abundance besides clouds, it surely must be salmon. The fishmongers over at Seattle’s Pike Place Market stock it in absurd quantities, partly to impress gawking tourists, partly because they do sell a tremendous amount. But what do they do with all the salmon that goes past those fleeting first days of freshness? The answer is a classic method of preservation. They smoke the whole fillets until cooked (a technique known as “hot smoking”) which results in a glorious transformation.

Take note this isn’t the smoked salmon you’re used to seeing pre-sliced in delis or on your bagels with cream cheese. There’s no burying in salt and sugar for days—it’s just straight up smoked over a variety of hardwoods. The result is salmon with a fresh-cooked, oily, chunky texture and a deeper, smokier flavor,  and today we’re featuring it in two easy winter salads that showcase this fine ingredient…

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon buttermilk salad jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon fennel salad

Hot-smoked salmon is extremely versatile in any lunch, dinner, or (preferably) breakfast scenario. In particular, its light, yet hearty character makes it excellent as the main player in a salad. Doing it justice in the winter season – as we are in now – can be tricky when you don’t have access to gorgeous spring lettuces or other summer bounty. But a good cook should be clever and resourceful – especially in barren winter frosts, oui? Here are two ways you can make the salmon work in a modern style using unsuspecting year-round staples we get from good ol’ California.

Smoked Salmon with Butterhead Lettuce, Pickled Mustard Seeds and Buttermilk Dressing

Yield: 2 Servings

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon buttermilk salad ingredients


Buttermilk Dressing:

  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon grain mustard
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil
  • Kosher salt

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon buttermilk salad-2


  • 1 head butter lettuce, smallest leaves removed, washed and dried
  • 12 ounces hot-smoked salmon
  • 4 tablespoons pickled mustard seeds
  • 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano


For the Buttermilk Dressing:

In a mason jar or other covered receptacle, combine the buttermilk, vinegar, mustard, oil, and salt. Shake vigorously until emulsified. This will keep for up to a week.

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon buttermilk salad-1

To Assemble:

In a bowl, toss the lettuce leaves with a pinch of salt and buttermilk dressing. Arrange the salad leaves on a plate. Top with salmon and pickled mustard seeds. Microplane or grate cheese over the salad.

Smoked Salmon with Pickled Celery, Fennel, Radish, and Yogurt

Yield: 2 Servings

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon fennel salad ingredients


Yogurt Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons labne yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of ¼ lemon
  • Kosher salt

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon fennel salad-1


  • 8 ounces pickled celery
  • 12 ounces hot smoked salmon
  • ¼ bulb fennel, mandolined thinly
  • 2 radishes, mandolined thinly
  • 1 bunch celery’s worth of leaves, picked


For the Yogurt Dressing:

In a bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, and zest. Season.

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon fennel salad-2

To Assemble:

Spread the yogurt dressing on the bottom of the plate. Lay the pickled celery and salmon on top of the dressing. In a separate bowl, toss the fennel and radish with salt and fresh lemon juice. Lay the mixture on top of the celery and salmon. Garnish with celery leaves.

Note: We haven’t provided the pickling recipes, but encourage you to find different ones on the web and come up with a combination of sugar, salt, vinegar and spices that you love! Bon appetit! 

jj proville for coco+kelley smoked salmon buttermilk salad-3jpg


*photography and styling by cassandra lavalle for coco+kelley // recipes created and presented by jj proville for coco+kelley


  1. Natasha

    … and as I am looking at the ingredients i am thinking to myself… hmmm, I just did that, well, actually I made the most yummy quiche with Brie and Salmon, paired it with a salad 🙂


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About JJ Proville

JJ Proville is a Seattle-based cook with a penchant for beautiful farmers' market produce, rustic cooking, fine animals, and natural presentation. After some time spent in food writing (and receiving a nomination for a James Beard media award) he spent time cooking at Manhattan's well-loved Gramercy Tavern and Fort Defiance, Brooklyn's most charming cocktail bar. He is now helping to craft the most authentic pasta in the Northwest at Seattle's Il Corvo.

tags: , ,   /   comments: 5