Monday, August 2, 2010

Smoky Grilled Salmon with Pickled Fennel

This is dish is all about contrasts: sweet and smoky grilled salmon, chilled, crisp pickled fennel with a touch of rich and spicy ginger mayonnaise. Although the list of ingredients and steps may seem fussy, it really was a breeze to put together.

I started out by wanting to quickly pickle a perfect summer bulb of fennel but wasn't sure what to pair it with until I saw some beautifully coral-hued sockeye salmon at the store. I thought that the natural sweetness of the salmon would be the perfect foil for the vinegary bite of the fennel.

The smokiness of the salmon is achieved by rubbing the fillet with pimentón, a smoked Spanish paprika and one of my favorite ingredients. The salmon cooks quickly on a hot grill and the brown sugar in the dry rub creates a caramelized crust on the exterior. The plate is finished with a touch of some mayonnaise and a scattering of fresh chopped herbs.

For 4 servings:

Pickled Fennel:

  • 1 small bulb fennel
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar

Trim both ends of the fennel and thinly slice it on a mandoline. Place the fennel in a colander and sprinkle the salt over it. With your hands, toss the salt with the fennel and place the colander in the sink to drain for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, water and vinegar. Rinse the fennel with cold water very thoroughly to remove the salt. Place the fennel in the bowl with the vinegar mixture and refrigerate for one hour or up to 2 days.


  • 1 pound salmon fillet
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pimentón
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, pimentón, salt, and turmeric. Coat the salmon with the oil and then rub the sugar mixture into the flesh of the fish.

Preheat a grill until hot. Add the salmon, skin side down and cook for about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for a couple minutes more, depending on thickness, or until just cooked through.

Ginger Mayonnaise:

  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger + juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil

Stir together the mayonnaise and ginger. Set aside.

To assemble: Place the fish onto 4 plates and spoon a little of the mayo amongst each plate. Top with the fennel and sprinkle with the herbs. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

ohonemorething said...

This sounds absolutely delicious! Next time I pick up a nice salmon I'm going to make this recipe--or at least a take on it. Would be interesting to try creating a vegetarian recipe (I sense a kitchen experiment coming on). Although I can't imagine what could replace the nice fattiness of salmon.

Thanks for sharing!

p.s. great picture!