Cooking can be just about the food, or it can be a therapy: a release from a grueling day at work, or from the sadness that settles on you suddenly in a blanket of volcanic ash. And therapy it was for me yesterday night, when I composed this overture of a salad: sweet, refreshing, and juicy, with just a slight overtone of crunch. It is not difficult to prepare and can serve as a light dinner or lunch.
What you need:
0.8 lbs wild salmon filet with skin
3/4 medium white grapefruit
6 dates, pitted
1 tsp ground anise, approximate
3 large leaves of red-tip leaf lettuce
5 white pearl onions
1 fistful of sprouts, any kind will work
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 pinch of salt, optional
How to do it:
Wash and chop lettuce leaves and add to a large bowl, add sprouts and onions cut in half-moons. Clean the grapefruit of the skin and the membranes, leaving just the flesh, and add large chunks of it to the bowl. Mix everything gently.
Do not salt the salmon. For this refreshing salad its natural flavor is enough, especially if the fish is fresh and not overcooked. Heat up oil in a pan. Slice the salmon into thin (3/4") stripes perpendicular to the length of the filet. When slicing, do not slice through the skin. When the oil is hot, place the filet into the pan, skin down. Sprinkle 1/2 of the anise over it. After one minute, turn the filet over and remove the skin (it's much easier to do after the fish has cooked for a bit). Sprinkle the skinned surface with the rest of the anise. While the fish is frying, cut the skin into small chunks. With the skin removed, the filet should now be a few separate pieces of salmon. Fry these on all sides until nicely golden (at the very most 20 minutes total, but likely less - the key is not to overcook!). Remove the salmon from the pan as soon as it is cooked through. Throw the skin chunks into the same pan and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then fish out onto a paper towel which will absorb excess oil.
Place salmon pieces over the salad. Chop the dates into small cubes and sprinkle them on top (see Tricks). Spray with lemon juice. Then, sprinkle with the fried salmon skin. It is not common to eat fish skin in US, and many people may feel revulsion toward it. However, when it is fried, the skin transforms into a very crunchy, tasty garnish that will enhance the character of this salad. I feel that the oil from the salmon and the lemon juice are enough of a dressing, but you may choose to add a bit more oil. A little bit of sesame oil would work well in this case. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt, if you so wish.
The result is a dinner and a desert in one, extremely light and juicy to the palate, a perfect relief for a hot day or heavy mood. Enjoy!
Tricks & Notes:
Even after you cut them, the pieces of dates tend to stick together. To solve this, place the chopped up dates into a separate bowl and add a little oil. Mix the pieces with oil until each individual piece is covered in it. Only then add the pieces to the salad bowl. The oil will keep the pieces separate.
The amount of anise depends heavily on its freshness, so judge for yourself.