I was a late comer to smoked salmon. Actually, I was a late comer to all things fishy-tasting (especially tuna fish, which I wouldn’t get within 10 feet of as a kid) and all things cured or with ambiguous ingredients (there was no pepperoni on my pizza as a kid, thank you). But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown into loving both fishy fishes, like salmon, and the salty, buttery flavor of cured meat.
I spent a couple of weekends staying with my gastronomically gifted uncle Jim in Amsterdam last month, who showered me and my friends with epic dinner parties fueled by bottles of wine that we ferried up from his exquisite wine cellar. And one of my favorite things that I ate at his table was a salad that was very unusual to my American palette. It contained smoked herring, beets, potatoes, apples, mayonnaise, and a few other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. The smoked herring melted into the mayonnaise and brought a richness to the composition that melded the beets, potatoes, and apples together in a truly special way. I liked it so much, I raided the salad container for breakfast the next morning.
So when I got home a few days ago and went straight to the grocery store, I was confronted with a few unusual sensations: I did not want to eat ANY cheese, sweets, cured meats, or butter. Shock! Horror! And I did not want to drink any more wine. More shock! More horror! So in a pretty unusual move for me, I stayed away from the cheese counter and the cured meat section.
But with the fabulous cured fishes I’d tried in Europe in mind, I was drawn to smoked salmon. Not the slimy sliced kind, which has its own charm, but the smoked salmon steak. With cured salmon in hand, I conceived this dish as the perfect transitional food from European epicure to Californian cleanse.
Once I had a pot of water boiled, the rest took me about 5 minutes to assemble. And I ate it for breakfast outside on my balcony in my pajamas, in our impossibly warm and dry and sunny Californian weather. Gosh, it’s good to be home.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Poached Egg, Smoked Salmon and Haricots Verts with Basilic Mayonnaise
- 1 small bunch of haricots verts (French green beans), trimmed and washed
- 1 egg
- 1 smoked salmon steak, sliced
- 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1/2 tbsp. basil sauce
Fill a pot large enough to fit the haricots verts with water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, mix basil sauce with mayonnaise and set aside. When water is boiling, salt it and blanch the beans until they are bright green and crisp-tender, about 4 min. Remove beans with a spoon or tongs, and place in a bath of cold water. Crack an egg into a large spoon, and lower the egg into the hot water. Cook until egg reaches desired consistency. Dry haricots verts, and plate with the mayonnaise. Place smoked salmon and poached egg on top, lightly salt and pepper the egg, and enjoy!