I love the ultra-fresh taste and mouth-feel of fennel. So when I came across this recipe in Bon Appétit Magazine, I had give it try. The recipe calls for Char (we call it dolly varden in Alaska). “Dolly” is a beautiful game fish which I spent many snowy November days pursuing with my father, but is an inferior fish to salmon when it comes to eating. I swapped it with king salmon but one could use sockeye or coho too. At the bottom look for an alternate fennel salad that incorporates heirloom tomatoes. Enjoy!
- Salmon fillet (1-2 lbs), or 2 large portions
- 0.5 cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp salt
- 6thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, divided
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp chopped preserved lemon peel (or fresh lemon peel:
- 0.5 cup dill fronds
The salmon can be cooked in any number of ways, as long as its cooked simply with salt and pepper. If you’d like to use the oven, try baking coho or sockeye with this recipe: Salmon Roasted in Butter. If you want to grill, try this one: How to Grill Salmon.
Put vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, 2 tsp. salt, and ⅓ cup water in a small saucepan, then simmer to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and add garlic.
Let sit until garlic is slightly softened, 10–15 minutes.
Add half of fennel and toss to coat. Let sit until fennel softens slightly and tastes pickled, 8–10 minutes.
- Drain fennel mixture and discard liquid.
- Toss in a small bowl with lemon juice, preserved lemon, remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, and remaining fennel; season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in dill.
Alternate Salad Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Fennel
This one is a bit more involved but is really good. Make the fennel salad ahead. That can sit in the fridge for a few weeks. Once you have this made, you’ll find all kinds of things to do with it–it’s delicious. When you’re ready to make this salad to go with your salmon, all you need to do is add the tomatoes and toss with some oil and salt and serve with the salmon. I got this one from Michael Anthony.
Pickled Fennel Portion:
- 1 whole star anise pod
- 1 tsp aniseed
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, crushed
- Zest of 1/4 orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced
- 1.5 cups rice vinegar
- 0.5 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 lbs. large heirloom tomatoes (about 3), cut into wedges
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom, halved
- 2 Tbsp white balsamic or Sherry vinegar
- 7 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- Fennel fronds (for serving)
Pickled Fennel Portion (DO AHEAD: Pickled fennel can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep chilled)
- Toast star anise, aniseed, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Bundle toasted spices, lemongrass, and orange zest in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine to make a sachet.
- Place sachet and fennel in a 1-quart jar or bowl.
- Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour vinegar mixture over sachet and fennel and let cool; discard sachet. Cover fennel and chill at least 12 hours.
- Combine large and cherry tomatoes, vinegar, and 6 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
- Serve tomato salad topped with peppers, pickled fennel, and fennel fronds.