“I always like to begin a meal with Champagne, which is my favorite wine region,” Emerson says. Here, he and his wife ,Anne, pair it with a grilled salmon salad with lemon vinaigrette. Photographs (2) by Shell Royster
A Spring Supper
Welcome the season with Patrick Emerson’s delicious salmon salad
Written by Lauren Johnson & Marion Sullivan
Advanced sommelier Patrick Emerson has set down roots in plenty of places. Born in England, he ventured to Cape Town, New York, and Los Angeles before landing East of the Cooper, where he lives with his wife, Anne, and children Luke (17) and Lily (12). As Emerson crisscrossed the Atlantic, working his way from busboy to waiter to bartender and beverage manager, he certainly got his fill of international cuisine, but his taste buds preferred the coast. “We’re pescatarians,” he says, referencing the fish-and-foliage diet that he adopted when he met Anne. “I don’t want to come across as a health nut,” clarifies the Curated Selections partner, whose role with the South Carolina-based wine distributor involves a smorgasbord of tastings. “I try every dish I pair wine with. I just choose not to cook meat myself.”
A simple springtime meal for the couple and their family includes a grilled salmon salad, which nods to his and Anne’s time in South Africa. “In Cape Town, if we wanted to eat pescatarian, we had to learn to cook for ourselves—so we began grilling local fish.” He perfected the art stateside while working under S.N.O.B. chef Frank Lee, who taught Emerson to grill salmon skin-side up so that the delicate flesh retains moisture. The pink fillets are served atop butter lettuce, dill, cucumber, and radish slices drizzled in homemade lemon-garlic vinaigrette. Find the recipe below, and consider serving it alongside the other dishes Emerson shared in our March-issue In the Kitchen article (hint: they include “shepherd-less” pie, asparagus soup, and chocolate mousse).
Grilled Salmon Salad with Anne’s Vinaigrette
1½ lbs. wild-caught salmon, skin on, cut into 4 (2-inch) steaks
1 Tbs. kosher salt
2 Tbs. freshly cracked black pepper
2 small heads butter lettuce
1/2 English cucumber, halved length-wise and thinly sliced
8 radishes, thinly sliced
4 hearts of palm, thinly sliced
4 dill fronds for garnish
4 lemon slices for garnish
1/2 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs. kosher salt
4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
A mortar and pestle will give the best result, but you can also do this in a food processor. Use the pestle to mash the garlic in a mortar. Add the salt, mashing it into a gummy paste. Stir in the lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing has a creamy consistency.
For the salmon:
Prepare a hot grill.
Rinse the salmon steaks under cold water and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the flesh side of the fish and gently rub it in. Grill the steaks skin-side up for two minutes. Rotate the steaks 180 degrees, and grill them for another two minutes. Flip them over, then grill them skin-side down for two minutes. Remove from grill and cool to room temperature.
For the salad:
Gently pull the leaves off of the butter lettuces and discard the cores. Combine the lettuce, cucumber, radishes, and hearts of palm in a large salad bowl. Pour in the dressing and lightly toss the salad. Divide among four plates. Remove skin from salmon if desired and lay one steak on top of each salad. Garnish with dill and lemon slices. Serve immediately.
For the rest of Emerson’s spring supper recipes, click here.