I created this halibut salad this weekend after we had some friends over for dinner. My husband had cooked about three huge pieces of halibut from our June trip to Alaska and we had about a pound of cooked halibut leftover. While cleaning up on Saturday, I put it in the fridge. On Sunday I decided to do something with it to avoid waste.
My taste buds steered me towards a lemony Scandinavian flavor profile that day…I had attended the Nordic Culinary Conference here in Seattle back in May and I think it was those thrifty creative chefs—Claus Meyer, Sasu Laukonnen, and Titti Qvanstrom— who inspired my path that afternoon. At the conference, the chefs discussed how they avoid waste, use local ingredients, and employ simple techniques to ramp up inherent flavors and achieve impressive dishes.
So…while staring at a Pyrex dish full of flaky white fish, I challenged myself to make a fresh and appealing salad with the leftover. Rather than just mix it up with some mayo which is the traditional route to go for those who do employ leftover fish in their kitchens…I decided to ramp up the flavors.
Leftover fish can be a tough sell. I wanted a “refresh”.
So, I looked in the fridge and the garden and pulled my Cuisinart forth on the counter. My food processor is crucial for challenges like this. It speeds the process and makes fish tidier to work with. From the garden, I gathered a handful of dill, and a rummage through the fridge yielded some decent celery and a big voluptuous lemon. With that, I had a game plan!
The key to my Halibut Refresh? I added lemon juice BUT I added it at a critical point.
I didn’t want to dilute that burst of sunshine. I wanted to make sure it played a key role so I sprinkled the juice directly on the halibut and processed the halibut, celery and lemon BEFORE I added the mayonnaise. I am convinced that this simple sequence in steps made an enormous difference in my end result because the lemon got mixed into the fish and the fish absorbed it, becoming light, sunny, and citrusy in the process. I then added the dill and the mayonnaise.
Here’s the recipe. A ridiculously appealing Alaska Halibut salad with definite Scandinavian tilt. I enjoyed it on piece of Larsen’s Bakery Light Finnish Rye. A match made in heaven.
Lemon and Dill Halibut Salad
3 celery stalks, cut into big chunks
8 to 10 ounces cooked halibut (poached, grilled or baked is fine), broken up into chunks
1 large lemon, rolled on the counter and then juiced*
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh dill
2 to 3 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, or to taste
Salt to taste
For serving: slices of lightly toasted rye bread and fresh Bibb lettuce leaves
For garnish: citrus zest, thinly sliced red onion, extra dill
Put the metal blade in the food processor, add the celery chunks and process the celery with three or four pulses to chop it. Put the halibut in the food processor, drizzle the lemon juice directly over the cooked halibut. Pulse once or twice to mix and incorporate the lemon juice. Add the fresh dill and the mayonnaise and pulse three or four times just to mix. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.
To create an open faced sandwich: Serve the salad on lightly toasted rye with a piece of lettuce and garnished with zest, extra dill, and thinly sliced onion if desired.
*Lemon Tip: To extract the most juice from a lemon, roll it on a counter before you juice it. You can also prick a couple holes the lemon, zap it in the microwave for twenty seconds, roll it on the counter and then juice it. These little techniques go a long way towards extracting all that sunshine from a lemon!