A recipe for crispy rice and salmon salad, just right for spring

Crispy rice salad with salmon and saffron honey vinaigrette

Total time:25 minutes

Servings:2 to 3

Total time:25 minutes

Servings:2 to 3


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Early next week, Iranians and people of Iranian descent – like me – will gather to celebrate the Persian New Year, Nowruz. It’s an ancient festival that takes place every spring and has its roots in Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s first monotheistic religions, believed to have originated in Persia some 2,500 years ago. Of course, modern Iran is under (corrupt, abusive, sexist) Islamic rule, so today this Zoroastrian holiday is more of a cultural celebration, centered around food and feasting, at least in my opinion.

Delicate green herbs, beans, fish, rice, eggs and sweets play a big role on the Nowruz table. As I have already written, on the eve of Nowruz, Ash-Reshteh, a soup with herbs and beans, is traditionally served, as well as fish, a symbol of life. There could also be kashk-o bademjan, a rich eggplant dip, deep green kuku sabzi, herb rice, crispy tahdig and baklava. This year I wanted to create a new recipe for Nowruz, one that honors tradition but doesn’t take hours to prepare. This salad of crispy rice, meaty salmon and veggies, dressed with a saffron honey dressing, hits the spot.

You start by crisping the skin of 2 or 3 salmon fillets. I like to lightly season the salmon and then place it skin side down in a cold nonstick skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and let the fish heat up gradually. This keeps it from warping as it crisps and browns. Once that’s done—the salmon isn’t cooked through—use tongs to transfer it to a plate, leaving the remaining oil from the fish in the pan.

Add a little olive oil to the pan along with some leftover rice. Using a silicone spatula, press the rice into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan, letting it mix with the oil as you go. Place the partially cooked salmon, skin side up, on top of the rice layer and cook for about 15 minutes. The rice will begin to turn golden and the fish will finish cooking in the steam rising from the pan. (If you like your salmon medium-rare or medium, remove it from the rice after 5 to 10 minutes.)

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: Put a pinch of saffron in a small bowl and add a tablespoon of boiling water – this will allow the saffron to “bloom” and bring out its scent and flavors. Stir in a little vinegar and honey, followed by a thin drizzle of olive oil to form a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

When the salmon and rice are done, break them up into large chunks and layer them on a platter with lots of vegetables and thinly sliced ​​radishes. Drizzle over the dressing and garnish the salad with plenty of fresh herbs. Without them, it wouldn’t be a meal fit for Nowruz.

Crispy rice salad with salmon and saffron honey vinaigrette

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  • Instead of salmon >> try mahi-mahi or char. Substitute crispy chickpeas or cooked kidney beans in place of the fish for this vegetarian dish.
  • I prefer crispy rice when prepared with basmati >> but you can use any type of cooked rice, including brown ones.
  • Saffron is really nice in it, but it’s expensive. >> Skip it if you’d like, or use a pinch of turmeric instead.
  • Instead of radishes >> you can also make this with sliced ​​cucumbers, steamed and quartered artichoke hearts, or steamed peas.

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  • 2 or 3 salmon fillets, skin on (1 lb total), patted dry, cut in half
  • fine salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups cooked white rice (1 day old is best)
  • Pluck saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon of boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 cups (2 ounces) leafy greens, such as little gem lettuce or spring mix
  • 4 small radishes, thinly sliced
  • Fresh dill, parsley, or sprigs of chives for garnish (optional)

Lightly season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in a 12-inch non-stick skillet. Set the pan to medium-high heat. (It is not necessary to preheat the pan; slowly heating the salmon will help the skin crisp up without curling.) Cook, uncovered, until the skin is browned and crispy, about 6 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and transfer the salmon to a plate. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the same pan, followed by the rice. Use a silicone spatula to spread the rice and press into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. Place the salmon skin-side up on the rice and cook, uncovered, until the rice is golden brown, 15 minutes. (The salmon will cook like the rice chips; remove after 10 minutes if you like your salmon medium, otherwise 15 minutes will be medium-well done.)

Prepare the dressing: meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the saffron threads between your fingers. Add the boiling water and let steep for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar and honey and pour 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a thin stream to form an emulsion, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, break up the salmon and rice into large chunks with your hands and arrange on a platter with the vegetables and radishes. Pour the dressing evenly over, garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs if you like, and serve family style.

Calories: 513; total fat: 25 g; Saturated fat: 4 g; cholesterol: 70 mg; Sodium: 221 mg; carbohydrates: 36 g; fiber: 1 g; sugar: 6 g; Protein: 34 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.

By staff author G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Kara Elder; email questions [email protected].

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