Fennel Citrus Salad and Cured Salmon with a Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Remember last week when I baked English Muffins and then made Salmon Eggs Benedict? Well, I was patting myself on the back quite a bit for that and said to Ari how cool it was that I made almost everything on the plate from scratch, except the smoked salmon.

So that got me thinking about what goes into curing salmon and could I do it on my own?! Just so you know how my brain works – when it comes to food, my stubbornness and curiosity know no bounds. Now if only I could apply that to other areas in my life…

Anyhow, ’bout that salmon: it turns out that it isn’t at all hard to do.

It takes, literally, minutes to put together. Most of the work happens in the time it sits in the refrigerator under a few pounds of weight. Mind you, this isn’t smoked (I wonder if I could do that at home?), but rather cured. You’re pressing out most of the moisture and infusing it with fresh dill and parsley flavors as well as lemon zest, salt, and sugar. The texture is similar to lox but the flavor is different.
Please don’t judge me for the hack job on slicing the fish! I don’t have the right knife yet. Though my birthday is coming up soon…

Since I’d already done enough talking about Eggs Benedict, I wanted to create something that could showcase the salmon as well as the all the beautiful citrus flavors of the season.

I decided to incorporate the salmon into a classic fennel/citrus salad and use dijon mustard in the dressing to pull it all together. I am a HUGE fan of mustard and knew that it would play nicely with both the fish and salad.

Funny story, a few weeks back I came home to a ginormous box of grapefruits and oranges at my front door. These were a surprise gift from someone who likes me. (I have to specify they were from a friend, because when you open a box and see the massive amount of fruit you have to fit in your NYC sized refrigerator it’s hard to tell the spirit they were sent in.) It’s been fun using them up in different and creative ways!

Obviously you don’t have to cure your own salmon to make this dish. The salad can be served on its own and/or you can buy cured or smoked salmon. I chose to put slices under the salad instead of in it because I preferred controlling the amount of salmon per bite, and the pieces caught the dressing drippings perfectly.

In the spirit of being adventurous in our kitchens, do you have something you want to make just to see if you can? Or have you done it already? I’d love to hear about your epic kitchen moments! 

Fennel Citrus Salad and Cured Salmon with a Grapefruit Vinaigrette by Herring and Potatoes

Recipe for Salmon from CHOW: Cured Salmon 
I didn’t have white peppercorns so I upped the lemon zest (almost a whole lemon for a half pound of fish) and it came out great!

Fennel Citrus Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette
  • 1 small bulb of fennel, reserve the tops (fronds)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot or ¼ of a red onion
  • 1 grapefruit, supremed (cutting the segments out: here is a good how-to) and reserve the juice
  • 1-2 blood oranges, supremed
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • ¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard (cut to 2 tsp if it's too sharp)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice the fennel very thinly on a mandolin or with a knife. Toss the fennel with a little salt and lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Slice the shallot or red onion very thinly on the mandolin, or with a knife. Add to the fennel along with the fruit segments.
  3. Chop the cilantro and add to the salad.
  4. Whisk together the grapefruit juice, mustard, honey, and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Dress the salad with half the dressing at first and taste before adding more. You want the dressing to be light but enough that you can really taste it!
  6. Serve the salad with pieces of the fennel fronds on top and slices of the cured salmon underneath.