CRISPY SALMON SALAD

I have been reading a book called, “How To Read A French Fry” by our own Los Angeles Times Food Editor, Russ Parsons (Houghton Mifflin). It’s a terrific book about why things work the way they do (my favorite subject) in this case in cooking applications, and it includes some wonderful recipes. Among them is a recipe for “Crisp Salmon Salad” which I have adapted slightly for this occasion.    Russ Parsons says that the belly of the salmon (often trimmed away to make a neater appearance for a salmon fillet) is full of flavorful fat. When it is broiled, it becomes crisp and amazingly tasty - almost like salmon bacon. Those of us who enjoy “salmon skin salad” in Japanese restaurants know how the warm, crispy salmon skin, broiled with just a little bit of salmon on it, makes a wonderful treat when tossed with lightly dressed salad greens. This is a heartier variation on that theme. It seems to me that the salmon might as easily be barbequed to a crisp finish, instead of broiled. I also have included an alternative salad dressing (an Asian-style dressing from John Ash) in case that flavor combination might appeal. A few small slices or “batons” (sticks) of cucumber and/or red bell pepper, scallions or the like might be added to the greens, as well. In any event, I think this makes a really terrific main course salad.

1 pound, salmon fillets – with skin on (preferably belly cut)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons, Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon, red wine vinegar
1/4 cup, olive oil

1/2 pound, mixed salad greens

Preheat the broiler. Cut the salmon lengthwise into strips about ½-inch wide. Salt and pepper the strips generously on both sides. Broil, skin side up, until the skin is crisp and dark brown – about 7-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. [Note: if using a barbeque, oil the grill grate on which you will place the salmon pieces – use a flat vegetable grate if possible (so the pieces don’t fall through) – and cook the salmon skin-side down, before turning.]While the salmon is broiling, beat together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Gradually add the oil, beating steadily until the dressing forms a smooth emulsion.Add half the dressing to the salad greens and toss well to mix. Add additional dressing as needed to lightly but thoroughly coat the greens.Divide the greens among 4 plates, and arrange the salmon strips on top. Serve immediately, passing the extra dressing.
    

Variations:

MUSTARD SEED DRESSING
4 tablespoons, whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons, olive oil
2 teaspoons, toasted mustard seed
(just put the seeds in a dry sauté pan, or non-stick skillet, over low heat
for a couple of minutes, until the seeds are lightly toasted)
2 tablespoons, seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons, light broth or water
1 teaspoon, honey (or to taste)
salt and pepper
 
Whisk all ingredients together. Dress salad greens lightly, as described above, place warm and crispy salmon strips on top and serve immediately.