"I always think of this as a Springtime salad, as it's so light and fresh-looking with its delicate tones of green and pink. The ginger and gently acidic rice vinegar give it a refreshing, clean, clear flavour and there are lovely textural contrasts between the silky salmon and avocado and the crispness of the cucumbers and radishes. It's absolutely perfect for a light lunch, but also makes a great entrée for a special meal when you want just a little something that will whet the appetite. I was fortunate when I made this for the photograph to be able to use delicate, finger-length cucumbers that were so sweet and crisp, and with so few seeds, that unlike my instructions in the recipe, I didn't avoid the seedy core when I was making the ribbons. With cucumbers like this you don't have to, but unfortunately they're hard to come by as they tend to be allowed to grow considerably larger. If by any chance you do see some, pounce on them! I can't tell you just how good they taste." ~ Belinda Jeffery.
450g piece of salmon, skin off, pin bones removed (ask your fishmonger to cut it from the centre of the salmon, if possible)
1/3 cup (80mL) mirin (Japanese sweetened rice wine, available in larger supermarkets and Asian food stores)
2 Tbs soy sauce
3 tsp very finely grated ginger
3/4 –1 tsp sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt, or to taste
6 radishes, sliced into a lovely, fine julienne
1 × 50g packet radish sprouts
1 just-ripe avocado, cut into tiny dice
4 large or 6 smallish (or 8 tiny!)
100mL rice vinegar
100g caster sugar
2 tsp sea salt
Line a plate with a small sheet of baking paper. Sit the salmon on it, then cover it with plastic film. Pop the plate in the freezer and leave it there until the salmon has firmed up but isn’t frozen – this will help make slicing it thinly much easier.
Meanwhile, whisk together the mirin, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and salt in a bowl.
Once the salmon feels firm, remove it from the freezer and use a really, really sharp knife to slice it very thinly. Lay the slices, side by side, in a shallow dish, then give the mirin mixture a good stir and drizzle it over the salmon. Cover the dish tightly with plastic film and refrigerate it for 2–3 hours.
Half an hour before you’re ready to serve the salmon, make the pickled cucumber. Thoroughly wash and dry the cucumbers, then run a vegetable peeler repeatedly down the length of each one to form long narrow ribbons, stopping when you get to the seedy core. Put the ribbons in a large bowl – discard the seedy cores, and the first ribbons on each side as they’re all skin and a bit chewy.
Whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pour this mixture over the cucumber ribbons and gently combine the two, then cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge.
To serve the salad, put the julienned radish, radish sprouts and avocado in a bowl. Fish the cucumber ribbons out of their liquid, letting any excess drain back into the bowl, then add them to the radish mixture. Drizzle in a little of the liquid from the cucumbers and gently mix everything together.
Remove the salmon from the fridge and arrange a ring of salmon slices on each plate. Make a pile of the cucumber and radish salad in the centre of the ring and serve.
Credits: Extracted from The Salad Book by Belinda Jeffery with photography by Rodney Weidland, Lantern, RRP$39.99
Photo Credits: Extracted from The Salad Book by Belinda Jeffery with photography by Rodney Weidland, Lantern, RRP$39.99