SALMON AVOCADO SALAD
This is one of those meals you will make once and when you realise how easy it is, you will make it over and over again. It’s great for people on keto or anyone who wants to have a low carb meal packed with flavour. Just make sure you get your hands on some of our locally grown avocado and this will really make this dish sing.
It's 1998 I’m 17 and living with my mother in Sydney’s western suburb of Campbelltown. I have just finished my first year as a chef apprentice, in a bistro in Balmain. I had been travelling three hours return for work, because the restaurants in my area weren't very good. But this long commute was taking a toll on me, as often either the train or one of the busses were late and I’d then be late for work. So, one day my head chef told me it was the last straw after I arrived 10 minutes late again she said that she’d had enough.
I decided to apply for a job in Bondi at a restaurant called Hugo’s. Fortunately, my grandparents had agreed that I could live with them in their Bronte home for a year. It was here I met my first real mentor, Pete Evans. He took a liking to my work ethic and straight away took me under his wing. He began to show me how to win at the chef game. Still, he was very tough on me, not allowing me to go on breaks and would make me stay back and clean up when everyone else was having a knock off drink. He would make me memorise recipes and recite them to him and send me to work in other kitchens without pay, where I had to memorise their recipes too.
One day I was sent to work with a man called Neil Perry. I soon realised that all the chefs in his restaurant didn’t have breaks and this was why Pete had been conditioning me. One day after my shift at about 1am, Neil was working on a new dish alone in the kitchen, so I asked if he needed any help. “Sure, put an apron on and peel these asparagus for me.” Neil was a very serious person and commanded respect. He ran his kitchen like the military but watching him cook was awesome; it was like watching an artist paint. His every move was purposeful and precise.
After plating up, he looked at me and said “whaddaya think? Looks pretty good hey?” I was like a deer in the spotlights. I just sort of nodded. “Let’s have taste then” he said. On a beautiful handmade plate sat some salmon that had been sliced thinly, like sashimi, then licked with a blow torch; on top was an avocado mousse, flaked blue swimmer crab, asparagus and crispy capers, all artistically drizzled with an acidic hollandaise.
“I reckon you are going to make it in this game ferret” he said to me, “Pete tells me you are a real talent.” Blushing, I asked him: “What are some of the things you look for in a chef?” Smiling, he said: “Well they need to be able to work long hours without complaint, have a genuine passion, be punctual, but most of all, possess a positive mental attitude and an ability to stay calm under pressure". On the train home it dawned on me just how fortunate I was to have someone like Pete in my life.
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 10 mins
2 x 250g skin on salmon fillets
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps SPARTAN
1 large Cos lettuce chopped
3 vine ripened tomatoes, wedged into 1/8ths
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
10 kalamata olives
1/2 red capsicum sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced wafer thin
1 ripe avocado, diced
100g Greek feta diced into 1cm cubes
5g Sesame seed mix
1 tbsp Dijon + 4 tbs olive oil + 2 tbsps red wine vinegar (dressing)
Mix SPARTAN and oil in a bowl and coat the salmon generously with the marinade (on the flesh side only). Marinate for 20 mins MAX.
Heat frypan and cook over medium-high heat - cook salmon for 2 minutes on each side until nice and crispy, and cooked to medium, or how you like it. Once salmon is cooked, set aside and allow to rest.
In a bowl toss in salad mix: cucumber, avocado, onion and tomato.
Place cos leaves on the bottom of a salad dish.
Scatter olives, fetta cubes and cover with salad mix.
Drizzle over salad dressing and salmon to finish.
Add a twist of lemon, sprinkle sesame seeds, and enjoy with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.