A salad satisfying enough to be a meal
Smoked mackerel and vinegary cucumbers add tons of flavor to this simple salad
Taste of Norway Editor
One of my favorite places to shop for food is the local Scandinavian store. Perusing the shelves of imported pantry items and the chilled cases for cheeses, meats, and fish never fails to inspire me in some way. Lately I’ve been enjoying the fillets of smoked mackerel.
One of my favorite fish, mackerel is full of flavor. I love its oily nature, although it can be pretty intense. Smoking it seems to round out the flavor a bit, creating just the right balance.
In the summer months, when the weather is hot, many people prefer to turn on the oven as little as possible. I’m not usually too concerned about that, but I do appreciate recipes that require minimal amount of time and effort to prepare. This one does just the trick.
Beginning with a bed of arugula dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper, the salad is then topped with sliced radishes, cucumbers, and bite-sized pieces of smoked mackerel, then garnished with wisps of fresh dill.
The typical Scandinavian side dish of cucumbers sliced and marinated in vinegar, salt, and herbs is a regular feature on my dinner table, and leftovers are a great way to add extra flavor to the recipe I’m sharing today. However, just plain sliced cucumber do the trick as well.
If you enjoy mackerel as much as I do, consider pairing it with roasted rhubarb—the tartness of the bracing stalks softens a bit in the oven, even when roasted without any sugar. As an alternative to today’s recipe, try beginning with a bed of tender butter lettuce (you can use the same dressing). Pile on the smoked mackerel and nestle little bits of roasted rhubarb, pickled beets, and slices of hard-boiled egg around, garnishing with dill. It’s equally satisfying, and quite pretty.
No matter how you serve it, smoked mackerel offers a satisfying punch of flavor with little effort.
Smoked Mackerel Salad with Radishes and Vinegary Cucumbers
I like to use leftover Scandinavian cucumber salad here for an extra bit of flavor, so if you’re planning ahead, then go ahead and make a batch for dinner the night before. If not, simple sliced cucumbers will work.
1 lb. smoked mackerel, skin & bones removed
5 oz. baby arugula
4 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup Scandinavian cucumber salad, or sliced cucumbers
fresh dill for garnish
2 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. ground mustard
¼ tsp. salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
Break the mackerel into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together until emulsified. Dip a leaf of arugula into the dressing to check the balance, and adjust as needed; arugula is already peppery, so checking the dressing with a leaf will help determine the right mix of flavors.
In a large mixing bowl, pour the dressing over the arugula and toss until evenly coated and glistening. Divide between four plates. Arrange the mackerel, radishes, and cucumber salad on each. Garnish with dill. Serve immediately.
Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway Editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).(/em)
This article originally appeared in the June 29, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.