Salmon and Kale-Spinach Salad

It was time for some salmon, some fresh salmon that doesn’t come from a farm or has been previously frozen. Salmon is something I have been cooking for over 30 years, so no recipe was needed, just a stainless steel pan, a bit of olive oil, and then anything else in the refrigerator that might go with salmon.

After salting and peppering it, I put a generous amount of Club Lucky’s Italian Dressing on it, and then I seared it on the stove for a few minutes. I added a bit more dressing and baked it in the oven for six minutes. It was cooked to perfection.

There are probably few foods I can cook that I know are going to turn out all right when all is said and done—salmon is one of those foods. It goes back to my days and nights working in fisheries in Kodiak, Alaska. It wasn’t a long period in my life, but before going to Kodiak I had never had salmon and I had never been far from home for any extended period of time (unless you count Marine Corps boot camp, which was really like home away from home).

I cooked my first salmon on the side of a hill, next to the tent I lived in, over an open fire with a few friends from the fishery. Sorry to say now, we had stolen the salmon from the fishery—I blame disgruntled employee logic. After slinging a few thousand pounds of whole salmon for 12 hours, it seemed only fair that we could keep one of them, and we did.

To compound the offense, we also stole beer that the fishery gave to fishermen they contracted with—Schaefer beer, I believe. To chill it we tied a rope around the six-pack and dropped it into the ocean just off a rocky portion of the shoreline. When we went to get it five hours later, the tide had risen and our beer was beyond our reach. Poetic justice, I guess. All we had for our thievery was a 7-pound salmon. High and low tides are not something you think about when you’re from Indiana.

We had no knives or forks or plates or anything, so we set the salmon over charred logs on the fire and let it cook, skin, guts, head, and all. As the skin started to blister and then steam and fall apart, we began picking at the meat, which was still raw for the most part, eating it as fast as we could until we hit bone and guts, which we left. That was my introduction to salmon (besides slinging and gutting them in the fishery), and although I have not cooked a whole salmon, guts and all, since, I have always included salmon in some form in my diet.

Beverly made a kale-spinach salad with beets, pear, sunflower seeds, and Michael Symon’s balsamic and orange dressing. It was the perfect complement to salmon. I wish I could make salads like Beverly. I am actually afraid to try because I know I will fall short (It would be like playing one-on-one with Lebron James–why bother?), so even if I am the sole chef in the kitchen, I call on her to made the salad, or at least make the dressing. And no matter how closely I watch her, and how sure I am of what to put in the dressing, I can never replicate what she makes. So, I’ll stick to the salmon–always bought and paid for now.

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