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…
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
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon grain mustard
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- Kosher salt
- 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.
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
- 4 tablespoons labne yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon fresh lemon juice
- Zest of ¼ lemon
- Kosher salt
- 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.
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!
*photography and styling by cassandra lavalle for coco+kelley // recipes created and presented by jj proville for coco+kelley