Mizuna Sunchoke Salad with Shiitake Salmon

Shiitake encrusted salmon on a bed of mizuna and sunchokes

Despite being Japanese, I used to hate eating cooked fish as a child. I think this may have had something to do with the fact that the only way my mother ever prepared it was overcooked, with a dash of Season All. It’s not that she was a bad cook, she did teach me to cook after all, but years of cooking for an apathetic family drained her of any passion she once had for it, and the indifference was especially apparent with fish.

Her aquatic victim of choice was almost always salmon, which is probably why I steered clear of cooking or eating salmon until very recently. The one redeeming quality of her tough grayish pink block of fish was the crisp golden crust of savoury Season All. It’s a seasoned salt that includes flavour enhancers like celery, garlic and onion powder. I really loved this stuff growing up and would even sneak into the spice cabinet on occasion and sprinkle some on my hand to eat.

Sunchokes

You’re probably thinking I’m quite odd after that one, but here’s another quirk of mine. I like to try things I know I don’t like from time to time to see if my disinterest has waned over time. In the case of salmon, I had an amazing slow roasted salmon last year that changed my mind.

While I was out hunting and gathering for dinner the other day, I noticed some gorgeous wild salmon on sale and I found myself craving that crisp Season All crust. Somehow using a pre-made spice blend just didn’t seem right, so I started ruminating about how I could add a crisp flavourful crust to the salmon without cheating. Grated dry cheese would have been nice from a flavour perspective, but the high heat required to crisp the exterior without overcooking the interior would have rendered the cheese black. For a brief moment I actually contemplated sprinkling just a bit of MSG on the fillets…. sacrilege! Besides, I don’t even own any MSG.

It was around then that I started thinking of other ingredients that are filled with umami enhancing glutamates. I remembered a few recent successes using shiitake powder in chicken sausage as well as a ragù and wondered what it would taste like encrusted on the salmon. Problem solved!

Salmon covered in shiitake powder

The mushrooms did their job creating a crisp crust of pure flavour, concealing that “salmon flavour” nicely and adding some depth and substance to the light salad. With crisp strips of sunchoke, mizuna greens and segments of grapefruit, all dressed in a very simple lemon vinaigrette, this salad has something for everyone.

for salmon
1 lb wild salmon fillet
olive oil
1 dried shiitake mushroom
onion powder
smoked salt
pepper

for salad
Mizuna or arugula
6 sunchokes peeled and julienned
1/2 grapefruit segmented and peeled
olive oil
1/2 Meyer lemon
salt & pepper

Wash and thoroughly dry the salmon then cut it into serving sized portions. Rub all surfaces with a bit of olive oil then salt and pepper both sides. Sprinkle some onion powder on both sides, then use a microplane or other zester to shave the dried shiitake onto both sides of the salmon.

Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot then place the salmon on the pan skin-side down. Cook until the skin is brown and crisp and the salmon is cooked about 1/3 of the way up the fillet. Flip then cook the other side until lightly browned then transfer to a plate to rest.

For the salad, put the mizuna in a bowl with the julienned sunchokes then dress lightly with a splash of olive oil, a squirt of Meyer lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat then put a mound of salad on a plate. Top with the salmon and serve with some grapefruit segments for some sweetness.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Another great technique!

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/ Holly

    Another great technique!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    I love the description of your mom’s cooking style. It recalls someone to mind. Hmmmm. Now who could it be? Ah ha! Got it–MY mom :)

    I love how you go for the umami w/o taking the MSG shortcut. Lovely meal, Marc!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com Jenni

    I love the description of your mom’s cooking style. It recalls someone to mind. Hmmmm. Now who could it be? Ah ha! Got it–MY mom :)

    I love how you go for the umami w/o taking the MSG shortcut. Lovely meal, Marc!

  • http://www.slim-shoppin.com/ Jennifer

    Marc, I have been doing the same thing within the last year. I am trying all sorts of foods I’ve always thought I hated and now I love them! I wouldn’t be caught dead eating any type of onion, now I eat them raw, in salads, soups. I like asparagus, all sorts of peppers. It’s never to late to try something new!

    Your salmon looks amazing!

  • http://www.slim-shoppin.com Jennifer

    Marc, I have been doing the same thing within the last year. I am trying all sorts of foods I’ve always thought I hated and now I love them! I wouldn’t be caught dead eating any type of onion, now I eat them raw, in salads, soups. I like asparagus, all sorts of peppers. It’s never to late to try something new!

    Your salmon looks amazing!

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    What is it about Japanese people who hate fish? It’s like not possible. One of my best friends is Japanese-American, and has only recently begun to like seafood. Mind-boggling! ;)

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    What is it about Japanese people who hate fish? It’s like not possible. One of my best friends is Japanese-American, and has only recently begun to like seafood. Mind-boggling! ;)

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    I love the idea of Shiitake crust for the salmon and the salad sounds very refreshing and full of flavor!

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    I love the idea of Shiitake crust for the salmon and the salad sounds very refreshing and full of flavor!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    Marc, come to Vancouver one of these days, and you’ll enjoy some of the best seafood prepared by some of the best chefs in this world. I promise.

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    Marc, come to Vancouver one of these days, and you’ll enjoy some of the best seafood prepared by some of the best chefs in this world. I promise.

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    Now that salmon looks good! Great pictures too!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    Now that salmon looks good! Great pictures too!

  • http://www.tan-kitchen.com/ Tan

    I love salmon and now one more interesting recipe.;)

  • http://www.tan-kitchen.com Tan

    I love salmon and now one more interesting recipe.;)

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Great idea, and I’m going to have to steal it!

  • http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/ lisaiscooking

    Great idea, and I’m going to have to steal it!

  • http://constableslarder.blogspot.com/ Giff

    love the grapefruit pairing here

  • http://constableslarder.blogspot.com Giff

    love the grapefruit pairing here

  • http://www.jumboempanadas.blogspot.com/ brilynn

    I’ve been working dried shiitake powder into tons of things lately- bread dough, meatballs, etc… As a crust on fish is a great idea!

  • http://www.jumboempanadas.blogspot.com brilynn

    I’ve been working dried shiitake powder into tons of things lately- bread dough, meatballs, etc… As a crust on fish is a great idea!

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    thank god you didn’t use MSG!! that’s a big no-no :) but the mushroom on salmon idea is just genius. you made me laugh a little with your description of your mum. my mum’s kinda like that but she is a fab cook and i think she’s recently discovered her love for cooking again, thankfully! x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    thank god you didn’t use MSG!! that’s a big no-no :) but the mushroom on salmon idea is just genius. you made me laugh a little with your description of your mum. my mum’s kinda like that but she is a fab cook and i think she’s recently discovered her love for cooking again, thankfully! x

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    H-hey! I want me some of that shitake powder! Or, I could just buckle down and use MSG, hee hee :) You know, I have that latter “quirk” too– it’s really my goal to not be turned off by any particular food (though I’m still a long ways away from that).

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    H-hey! I want me some of that shitake powder! Or, I could just buckle down and use MSG, hee hee :) You know, I have that latter “quirk” too– it’s really my goal to not be turned off by any particular food (though I’m still a long ways away from that).

  • http://sushiday.com/ Allison Day

    I’m (half) Japanese as well, and only recently started eating seafood. I never even tried sashimi until just over a year ago! Crazy, I know. In my case it was because my mom is allergic to fish so we never had it around (especially sashimi, because she loves it but can’t eat it!) so I never developed a taste for fish until I was an adult.

    That salmon looks amazing, and it sounds like it would be fantastic with that wonderful crust! I’ll definitely have to try it sometime.

  • http://sushiday.com Allison Day

    I’m (half) Japanese as well, and only recently started eating seafood. I never even tried sashimi until just over a year ago! Crazy, I know. In my case it was because my mom is allergic to fish so we never had it around (especially sashimi, because she loves it but can’t eat it!) so I never developed a taste for fish until I was an adult.

    That salmon looks amazing, and it sounds like it would be fantastic with that wonderful crust! I’ll definitely have to try it sometime.

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    I have shiitake powder on hand, I will definitely try it with fish.
    I have not eaten sunchokes raw, I have to try this too. Lots of creative ideas here.
    Thanks, Marc.
    LL

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    I have shiitake powder on hand, I will definitely try it with fish.
    I have not eaten sunchokes raw, I have to try this too. Lots of creative ideas here.
    Thanks, Marc.
    LL

  • http://rasamalaysia.com/ Rasa Malaysia

    I like salmon but I also don’t like salmon, so I can understand what you meant. I’ve had quite a few overcooked and totally dried-out salmon, but then once in a while, I got a perfect one. It’s really a love-hate relationship with salmon. ;)

  • http://rasamalaysia.com Rasa Malaysia

    I like salmon but I also don’t like salmon, so I can understand what you meant. I’ve had quite a few overcooked and totally dried-out salmon, but then once in a while, I got a perfect one. It’s really a love-hate relationship with salmon. ;)

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com/ Daily Spud

    This dish wasn’t just salmon but an interesting taste challenge for you! I also do that thing of revisting foods that I thought I disliked or ones that I really liked as a kid but hadn’t eaten in years. It can go both ways – some stuff that I loved I find I don’t really have a taste for anymore and vice versa. Our tastes do change, as well as discovering new tastes that are out there.

  • http://www.thedailyspud.com Daily Spud

    This dish wasn’t just salmon but an interesting taste challenge for you! I also do that thing of revisting foods that I thought I disliked or ones that I really liked as a kid but hadn’t eaten in years. It can go both ways – some stuff that I loved I find I don’t really have a taste for anymore and vice versa. Our tastes do change, as well as discovering new tastes that are out there.

  • http://pilot-in-command.blogspot.com/ Echo

    I’ve never been a huge fan of salmon (or mushrooms for that matter), but you’ve challenged me to try it. It looks delicious.

  • http://pilot-in-command.blogspot.com Echo

    I’ve never been a huge fan of salmon (or mushrooms for that matter), but you’ve challenged me to try it. It looks delicious.

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