Pale pink or shocking neon orange, salmon is instantly recognizable on our plates. Or is it? Restaurants are now offering up so much more than just filets and steaks. From unusual cuts like collar and tail to out of the ordinary recipes, such as pastrami and larb salad, here are some of the most exciting salmon dishes we’ve spotted on menus.
Salmon Tartare Toast at Union Fare, New York, New York
Described as a “gastrohall” Union Fare in Manhattan offers a popular starter that combines the savory toast trend with both fresh and smoked salmon. The salmon tartare toast is made with a layer of fresh salmon as well as delicate smoked salmon mousse topped with creamy avocado and crunchy and pickled ramps. Make a reservation at Union Fare.
Chawanmushi at Mosu, San Francisco, California
Unless it’s being served on top of blini, it’s not that common to find salmon roe on the menu. At the modern Asian inspired Mosu, chef Sung Ahn serves a luxurious chawanmushi a kind of savory Japanese egg custard. In addition to salmon roe, it’s topped with yuba (tofu skin), egg, crab, okra, and radish, and garnished with gold flakes and served as part of the 15-course tasting menu. Make a reservation at Mosu.
Chiang Mai Larb at E.P. + L.P., Los Angeles, California
Executive chef Louis Tikaram showcases Southeast Asian flavors inspired by his Fijian-Chinese-Indian heritage, native Australian roots, and extensive travels across Southeast Asia at E.P. + L.P. in West Hollywood. The Chiang Mai Larb, a Laos/Northern Thai-style salad, is the perfect example of a modern riff on traditional Southeast Asian fare, featuring spiced salmon, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and cabbage. Make a reservation at E.P + L.P.
Oven-Roasted Salmon at Beer Park, Las Vegas, Nevada
Beer Park is a rooftop bar and grill overlooking the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. Because the restaurant has a partnership with Anheuser-Busch, they requested some of their beechwood – which is used in the fermentation process as a surface for the yeast to grow – for their smoker and other menu items. The oven-roasted salmon is cooked and served on a Budweiser plank and is topped with a Goose Island beer glaze. Make a reservation at Beer Park.
Thai Salmon Ceviche at Tamarind Hall, San Francisco, California
First-time restaurateur Salisa Skinner opened Tamarind Hall to showcase both Thai street food and her family recipes from Thailand. Some recipes use a blend of local ingredients with traditional flavors like her Thai salmon ceviche, a salad of thin raw slices of salmon topped with a sweet, tangy and spicy mix of fresh mango, onion, lemongrass, and homemade chili jam. Make a reservation at Tamarind Hall.
Salmon Gravlax at Plaj, San Francisco, California
Adding beet to Scandinavian gravlax is a common twist, but Plaj in San Francisco takes it one step further, by serving it with a delicious and surprising yellow beet sorbet, made in house along with rye crisps and lemon creme fraiche. The refreshing sorbet is savory rather than sweet, providing a counterpoint to the cured fish. Make a reservation at Plaj.
Salmon Collar at Cold Storage, Chicago, Illinois
Cold Storage is a seafood bar that opened earlier this year inside of Swift & Sons in Chicago They also offer salmon collar as a special. It’s marinated, charred in a Josper oven, and served with roasted Napa cabbage, orange, and toasted almonds. When it’s not on the menu, try another salmon snack like the salmon gravlax served with beets and horseradish or the salmon chicharrones. Make a reservation at Cold Storage.
Salmon Pastrami at Black Cat, San Francisco, California
Black Cat, a newly-opened supper club in San Francisco, serves latkes two ways — either with roasted applesauce and saffron chives or with salmon pastrami. Chef Ryan Cantwell uses steelhead salmon with fatty marbling, which helps the fish stay juicy after smoking. It’s filleted and dabbed with a classic Jewish deli pastrami rub and marinates for two days before being cold smoked over hickory until barely cooked. The dish is finished with a spoon of sour cream with charred shallot, brined radishes, and fresh dill. Make a reservation at Black Cat.
Wild King Salmon Collar at Union, Pasadena, California
You may have seen “hamachi kama” or yellowfin collar on sushi menus. It’s usually available in very limited supply. Chef and co-owner Bruce Kalman of this beloved Northern Italian restaurant offers roasted wild king salmon collar as a special. He seasons and sears the collar, roasts it in the oven, and then bastes it with butter, thyme, and Meyer lemon. Make a reservation at Union.
Salmon Rillette at Bellamy’s, Escondido, California
The newly remodeled Bellamy’s offers modern Californian cuisine but with a strong French influence. The salmon rillette is a fine twist on a typical salmon pâté. French master chef Patrick Ponsaty uses rich and fatty salmon belly from Alaska and tops the dish with cucumber and Tobiko caviar. It’s available on the regular menu and also at the bar. Make a reservation at Bellamy’s.
Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Panna Cotta at Salt House, San Francisco, California
At Salt House in San Francisco, chef Evan Gotando offers an elegant and seasonal dish made with smoked salmon and goat cheese panna cotta. The smoked salmon is cut up and mixed with a creme fraiche dressing, diced celery, diced cucumber, and red onion and rolled up like sushi covered with thinly sliced avocados. It’s garnished with red onion, shaved cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sourdough croutons, salmon roe, micro celery, and micro cilantro. Make a reservation at Salt House.
Whole Roasted King Salmon at 1833, Monterey, California
As a tribute to Gallatin’s, the former restaurant that occupied the Restaurant 1833 space in Monterey, executive chef Mikey Adams offers a Gallatin throwback menu with whole beast selections, such as whole suckling pig, wood-fired goat, and whole roasted king salmon along with sides for parties of six or more. The whole salmon is served with Manila clams, bouchot mussels, crêpes, saffron fumet, potato purée, kale Caesar with smoked egg, and sugar snap peas with mint. Make a reservation at 1833.
Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, blogger, and cookbook author. She is the publisher of the food blog Cooking with Amy. She currently contributes to numerous online publications including Food Network, Fodor’s and Refinery 29 and never says no to a warm donut. Follow her @cookingwithamy.
Photo credits: Chris Wessling (Beer Park); Genevieve Adams (E.P. + L.P.); Black Cat (Kelly Puleio).