This starter was a happy accident I had when I was just trying to throw something together using random ingredients I had left over in my fridge. About a year and a half ago, I was looking in my fridge and wondering, "What am I going to do with the tail end of a salmon filet, a half-bulb of fennel, a quarter-jar of kalamata olives, and one cara cara orange?" Well, I had just learned of a method of quick-curing salmon using just brown sugar and salt and I had also just come up with my favorite dressing ever using miso, lemon, and apple cider. So I decided to quick-cure the salmon filet and lay it in a "broth" of the lemon-miso-apple dressing, and then add fennel for crunch, oranges for freshness (and color), and the kalamata olives for a salty kick.
Even the cara cara oranges were a total luck of the draw. I could have had regular navel oranges, but I happened to have its cousin, whose color is darker and mimics the salmon. I just loved this visual effect.
And then there was the taste. Holy sh*t. When I took my first bite, I was blown away. The salmon was packed with flavor, even after just an hour of marinading, the oranges were refreshing, the fennel added much-needed crunch and a licorice-y note, while the olives were the perfect salty counterbalance to the overall sweet and citrusy flavors. I was elated — for a home cook, there are few things that make us happier than fortuitous discoveries like this. Recipe below.
1 lb salmon (as fresh as possible)
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1 cara cara orange, supremed
1 /2 cup kalamata olives (pitted), sliced
2 tablespoons white miso
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Slice the salmon into four equal-size filets.
- Sift the salt and brown sugar together and rub evenly all over the salmon filets. Refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the miso, lemon juice, apple cider, and olive oil in a small bowl.
- When salmon is "cured," fill the bottom of a shallow salad bowl with 1/8 cup of the lemon-miso-apple dressing and assemble the salmon, fennel, orange, and olives on top.