Lately, when eating dinner out, the things I’ve eaten have all been creative variations on the same theme. The theme is this: some type of fish, usually tuna or salmon, supported by a bed of tender mixed baby greens, and then the whole thing beautifully finished with other ingredients that are small but strong hits of complementary flavors. For me, it’s a perfect combination: a meal that’s a really satisfying way to end a long day, and a very healthy way to recharge for the next.
I came across this dish at a local bar and grill, a late-night place we found after a longer-than-expected meeting and three “sorry, the kitchen’s closed” restaurants. I was pretty sure I could re-create the same salad at home, and after a little experimenting I came up with a simple oven-baked version. For a very fast dinner, you could make and store everything but the salmon ahead of time as well, and then just broil the fish when you are ready to eat. Use the freshest organic ingredients you can find, and sustainably-raised or wild-caught salmon if possible. Then make this tamari-maple glazed salmon salad for dinner tonight, and put a big smile on someone’s face.
Tamari-Maple Glazed Salmon Salad
1/2 cup/56 grams whole pecans, cut into halves
1 tablespoon organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 strips organic uncured bacon
1/4 cup/72 grams organic tamari
1/4 cup/80 grams grade B organic maple syrup
1/4 cup/56 grams extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons/28 grams rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 pound sustainably-raised or wild-caught salmon, with skin still attached
10 grape tomatoes, cut in half length-wise
1/4 red onion, sliced paper thin
2 ounces/56 grams gorgonzola cheese
Approximately 8 ounces/226 grams mixed baby greens
Preheat the oven to 300ºF/148ºC. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Mix sugar, ground coriander and salt together in a small bowl. Put pecan halves into a strainer and rinse with a tiny bit of cold water. Shake off excess water, then toss with the sugar mixture in the bowl. Dump onto the baking sheet, spreading them over the sheet, and bake in the oven until slightly toasted, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, let cool a few minutes, lift parchment or silpat onto a cooling rack and let the pecans finish cooling.
While the pecans bake, whisk the tamari and maple syrup together in a small heavy saucepan. Over low heat, reduce the liquids to just a little over 1/4 cup. Watch carefully while reducing, as the liquids reduce quickly and can foam up and overflow if overheated. Remove from the heat for a few seconds if this happens until the liquid settles down again. Resist the urge to whisk while reducing; simply swirl occasionally over the heat. Pour into a heat-proof container when done (I pour it into a pyrex measuring cup so I can be sure I’ve reduced it enough).
Increase the oven temperature to 400ºF/204ºC. While the oven heats up, line the same baking sheet with foil and place the strips of bacon on the foil. Bake in the oven until crispy, about 12 to 15 minutes. Use tongs to remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. When cool, dice into very small pieces.
While the bacon is cooking, whisk together the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, ground coriander, and salt and pepper in a separate container. Set aside.
Turn the oven to broil. Pour off the bacon fat from the baking sheet, but leave the used piece of aluminum foil on the baking sheet. Place the 1/2 lb. piece of salmon, skin side down, on the foil. Drizzle the salmon with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Place on the middle rack under the broiler, and broil until the top of the salmon begins to get a very slight crust and the raw, deeper pink color on the inside of the filet is beginning to lighten and firm up a little. If you remove the fish and it is not quite cooked on the inside, you can tent it with a little more aluminum foil as it sits, and it will finish cooking on its own.
While the salmon cools, in a large bowl, mix the salad greens with the olive oil vinaigrette, using your hands to evenly coat the salad. Divide the dressed salad among two large dinner plates, heaping each into a large mound. Divide the tomatoes, onions, gorgonzola, glazed pecans and bacon pieces evenly between the two plates, sprinkling them over the greens. Divide the salmon filet in half and top each salad, placing in the middle of the mound of greens. Drizzle the tamari-maple glaze over the salad and then a little extra over the salmon. Serve immediately.
Serves 2 people