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.
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!
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.
Other Salmon Recipes
- 453 grams salmon (I used sockeye, cut into 2 filets)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large dried shiitake mushroom
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- smoked salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bunch mizuna (arugula will work as well)
- 6 small sunchokes (peeled and julienned)
- 1/2 ruby red grapefruit (segmented and peeled)
Pat the salmon dry using paper towels. This step is very important to get the skin crisp.
Rub all surfaces of the salmon with a bit of olive oil then sprinkle with the onion powder, salt, and pepper on both sides.
Use a microplane to grate the dried shiitake onto both sides of the salmon, forming a crust on the outside.
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat until hot, add a splash of olive oil, and then place the salmon in the pan skin-side down. Cook until the skin is brown and crisp and the salmon has cooked about 1/3 of the way up each fillet. Flip them over and cook the other side until lightly browned then transfer to a plate to rest.
Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper together in a bowl until it's emulsified.
For the salad, put the mizuna in a bowl with the julienned sunchokes then drizzle with some of the dressing and toss to coat. Adjust the amount of dressing to taste. Toss to coat evenly.
Plate the salad by putting down a bed of salad and topping with the salmon. Serve with some grapefruit segments for a citrusy zing.