Many times we order salads (or make them at home) that are labeled “salmon salads”. You know, the salad full of greens with a nice, refreshing vinaigrette and a piece of poached salmon fillet strategically placed and balancing on top? I love those and have been know to order them often. However…What I never see when I go out, is the salmon salad made up of, for the most part, all salmon. I mean after all, if you’re ordering salmon salad with the promise of a nice big piece of delicious salmon to savor, why wouldn’t you be able to order the salmon as the salad? Hmm…I’m starting to ramble and confuse even myself. What I’m trying to say is, this recipe from Ina Garten, is one of the most fantastic salmon salads I’ve ever had. No matter the reason. Because it is essentially a cold salad (although the very best eaten at room temperature), I like to make this up and keep in the fridge and nibble on it for a few days. It keeps wonderfully and is so moist and delicious that it’s one of the few salads you can actually do that with and finish the whole thing without something getting soggy along the way or worse, having to be thrown out as inedible. I’ve included a picture of the salad sitting on top of greens I know, but that is for food photography purposes only (busted?). You can put this on greens, but I never do. I ask you to double-click on the picture above and get a sense of how delicious this salad is and what a delightful change from the norm.
I use Sockeye Salmon for this. Sockeye cooks faster than other kinds of salmon so be careful not to overcook it…which leads me to tell you…and this is important, so come closer. …Please, take your salmon off the heat when it still looks a little rare inside. It should look like it’s almost done, but not cooked all the way through. The reason is, when you take it off the heat, it will finish cooking. Trust me, it’ll firm up and stay perfectly moist that way. Afraid? How many times have you had dry salmon, either eating out at a restaurant or at home? That is most likely the reason. So be absolutely sure to follow this method and you won’t end up ruining a perfectly good meal. Oh and because it’s freezing and still snowing here in Wisconsin (grrr)…I made this inside in the winter. You can use either a grill pan inside or a regular pan and the salad will still turn out beautifully!
Grilled Salmon Salad
2 lbs fresh salmon fillets, with the skin on
Good olive oil, for grilling
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small-diced celery (3 stalks)
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
2 Tbl minced fresh dill
2 Tbl capers, drained
2 Tbl raspberry vinegar
2 Tbl good olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the grill with hot coals.
Cut the salmon fillets crosswise into 4-inch-wide slices. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush the cooking surface with oil to prevent the fish from sticking. Cook the fillets on the grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until they are rare. Be sure they are still rare on the inside. Remove to a plate, wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator until cold and very firm.
When the fillets are cold, remove any skin that hasn’t come off during grilling. Break the fillets into very large flakes and put them into a bowl, adding any juice that has collected at the bottom of the plate.
Add the celery, red onions, dill, capers, raspberry vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve cold or at room temperature.