Grilled Salmon With Cucumber Date Salad
- One 2½-pound center-cut skin-on salmon fillet, cut into 6 equal pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 English (hothouse) seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
- ¾ cup finely sliced fennel, feathery fronds reserved for the garnish
- 6 dates, pitted and cut in slivers
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (½ a large lemon)
- 6 tablespoons fruity olive oil
- Medium-coarse sea salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
Prepare the salmon:
- Prepare a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill (alternatively, cook the salmon indoors on a grill pan); the coals should be medium-hot and the rack should be positioned about 6 inches from the fire.
- Place the salmon fillets on a cutting board, skin-side down. Cut down the center of each fillet lengthwise along the center seam. Cut through the flesh but not the skin.
- Draw the salmon flesh apart at the incision, flattening the fillets, leaving them skin-side down.
- Fold each fillet into a horseshoe shape, bending it back onto itself, so it resembles a boneless salmon steak.
- Brush each piece of fish lightly on both sides with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
- Grill the salmon just until the flesh firms and grill marks appear, about 2½ minutes on the first side and about 1½ minutes on the second side.
- Rotate each fillet one quarter-turn (90 degrees) and grill just long enough to mark the fillets, completing a cross-hatch pattern, less than 1 minute.
- Turn the fillets over and repeat the grilling and rotating procedure until the other sides show the cross-hatch grill markings. Remove the fish from the grill and reserve. (The salmon can be grilled up to 1 hour in advance of the meal.)
Prepare the salad:
- Roll the cucumber pieces up in a clean linen napkin or towel, and then smash them, pressing down hard with the heels of your hands while ensuring the towel doesn’t unroll, to release the juices.
- Transfer the crushed cucumbers to a cutting board, and then coarsely chop. Combine the cucumbers, sliced fennel, dates, walnuts, chives and some of the fennel fronds in a salad bowl and mix gently.
- Finish cooking the salmon and dress the salad:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the salmon fillets in a baking dish, brush each one lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and roast about 3½ minutes for medium-rare.
- Meanwhile, dress the cucumber salad with the lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of fruity olive oil.
- Then season with sea salt and pepper. Toss the salad lightly, and then arrange equal portions on each of six plates. Top each portion of salad with a grilled salmon fillet.
- Drizzle a little fruity olive oil on top of each portion, garnish each plate with fennel fronds and serve.