Eric Akis: B.C. sockeye salmon served chilled with salad makes tasty summer meal

Eric Akis

B.C. sockeye salmon is in season and I have a very cool, perfect way to serve it in summer. Simply season the fillets, and then bake, chill and serve with a cool, creamy, tasty cucumber potato salad.

If that appeals, and you’re reading this in the morning and want to serve it for lunch or dinner, start preparing it soon. You’ll have to because the cooked salmon needs to be refrigerated awhile before enjoying it.

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When baking the fish, as noted in previous stories on the subject, the salmon will feel slightly firm when it’s cooked. Too soft means it’s not cooked through, too firm and it’s overcooked. When cooked, the fish will also very slightly start to separate into flakes and a white protein will often seep out between those flakes.

As with the fish, the salad can also be prepared in advance and be chilling in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Tossing sliced, cooked, cooled, miniature potatoes, cucumbers, carrots and green onions with a creamy, tangy mayonnaise/sour cream-based dressing is how it’s made.

The salmon and salad recipe serves two. If you are serving a larger group, though, it could certainly be doubled or further expanded.

Baked Chilled Sockeye Salmon with Creamy Cucumber Potato Salad

B.C. sockeye salmon is baked and served cold with an easy-to-make, flavourful summer salad anchored with cucumber and potatoes. You could also serve the salmon and salad with slices of dense rye bread.

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: About 20 minutes

Makes: two servings

2 (about 170-gram) sockeye salmon fillets

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp olive oil

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

7 (about 1 1/4-inch wide) miniature yellow, white or red potatoes

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

3 Tbsp sour cream

2 tsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp honey

2 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard

1 tsp minced fresh tarragon or dill

• small splashes Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce

1/4 medium English cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut, widthwise, into 1/4-inch thick slices

1 medium green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup grated carrot

• lemon slices and tarragon or dill sprigs, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set salmon in the pan. Drizzle fish with lemon juice and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake fish 12 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked through. Cool salmon to room temperature, and then refrigerate at least two hours.

To make the salad, cut the potatoes into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices, set in a small pot and cover with two inches of cold water. Set over medium, medium-high heat and bring to simmer. Simmer potatoes until tender, but still holding their shape, about five minutes. Drain potatoes well, set on a wide plate and cool to room temperature.

Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, honey, mustard, tarragon (or dill), Tabasco and Worcestershire in a mixing bowl. Taste and season this salad dressing with salt and pepper, as needed. Add the potatoes, cucumber, green onion and carrot to the dressing and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate salad until needed. It can be made a few hours before serving.

When ready to serve, divide and set some salad in the centre of each of two dinner plates. Set a piece of salmon on top of the salad on each plate, garnish with lemon slices and tarragon (or dill) sprigs, and enjoy.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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