When I travel, I love to eat something delicious and think about how to re-create it at home. Recently, I had a very simple, memorable salad at Broder Nord, a Nordic restaurant I came across in Portland. The owners run three other Nordic restaurants in Oregon as well, two in Portland—Broder Söder and Broder Café—and one in Hood River, Broder Øst. They all serve dishes with a Scandinavian influence. The salad was made with radicchio—a strong, purple, bitter lettuce—which paired remarkably well with a basic Caesar dressing and crumbled smoked steelhead trout. All I could think about was how well it would work with Alaska salmon.
Back in Alaska, I recreated the salad using smoked salmon, and added rye bread croutons for a robust main dish. I had never done much with radicchio, a hearty form of leaf chicory often used in Italian cooking, but I noticed that it’s almost always in stock in the produce section. It’s my new favorite experimental food. An important tip: soak the leaves in ice water for about a half-hour before using, which takes down some of the inherent bitterness. (Skip this step if you are into that kind of thing.) I combined it with my favorite lazy blender Caesar dressing. This recipe makes a generous amount. You can leave the egg out of the dressing, but the emulsification will not be the same. Smoked salmon’s flavor can be stronger than steelhead’s. If you happen to have smoked trout or cod, you could experiment with those.
Serves 4, generously
For the salad:
- 1 head radicchio, torn into bite-sized pieces, soaked in cold water for at least 30 minutes and dried
- 3 slices rye bread, crust removed, cut into bite-sized squares
- Roughly 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces smoked fish: trout, salmon, halibut, or cod, drained of any oils
- ½ cup Parmesan, grated, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, for garnish (optional)
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
For the dressing:
- 1 egg
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3–4 canned/jarred anchovies
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup flavorful olive oil
Heat the oven to 350° F. Lay bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle generously with olive oil, toss to coat, sprinkle with salt. Bake for 7 minutes, turn them over using a spatula, and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes until they’re toasted but not burned. Set them aside.
Crack an egg into the blender. Add lemon, vinegar, Worcestershire, Dijon, garlic, anchovies, Parm, salt, and a couple of good cracks of pepper. Turn the blender on medium speed, remove the small round cap in the center of the lid, and drizzle the oil in while the bender is running. Stop the blender and adjust salt. Add more oil if the dressing is too tart for you.
To serve, toss the radicchio and croutons with about ½ the dressing, the additional Parmesan and another crack or two of pepper. Crumble the fish on top of the salad. Sprinkle with fresh dill, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges and extra dressing.
First published in the Summer 2023 issue of Edible Alaska.