Basil

Leela Punyaratabandhu's Cedar-Plank Salmon Salad Bites

by:
July 21, 2020
Photo by David Loftus
Author Notes

Called miang in Thailand, this fun appetizer lends itself to communal cooking and eating. On a weekend, family members come together to help cut various flavorful ingredients into little pieces so that later they can all sit down together and compose and consume bite-size salad wraps made up of the finely cut foods. Miang is also by definition flexible. Other than a few iterations that have become essentially canonized, it can contain anything you want. You are in charge of the destiny of your miang. Think of it as a salad that is composed on the palm of a hand, one bite at a time.

The grilling of the salmon on a cedar plank is the American influence. This way I can juxtapose the smoky result with the vibrant flavors of lime, chiles, and ginger—all against the backdrop of fragrant fresh herbs. And though there are other ways to introduce smokiness to the fish, the plank makes for a great presentation as well as eliminates any possibility of the fish sticking to the grate. You’ll need a cedar plank, about 12 inches long.

Reprinted with permission from Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal by Leela Punyaratabandhu. Copyright©2020 shesimmers.com. Photographs copyright ©2020 by David Loftus. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Food52

  • Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • Dressing
  • 4 to 6 fresh red bird's eye chiles, or 2 or 3 larger red hot chiles
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup packed grated palm sugar or granulated coconut sugar, or 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • Fish
  • 1 (1-pound) salmon fillet
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Salad
  • 1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 ounces shallots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 green Thai long chiles or jalapeños, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed fresh Thai or common basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 24 to 32 Bibb lettuce leaves
  • 2 small, thin-skinned limes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Soak the cedar planks in warm water to cover for 1 hour.
  2. To make the dressing: In a small food processor or a mortar, blend the chiles and garlic until the bits are the size of a match head. Transfer to a small saucepan, add the fish sauce and sugar, and heat gently over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice, and transfer to a small heatproof serving bowl.
  3. To cook the fish: Pat the salmon dry. Rub the salt and oil on it and leave it at room temperature for the surface to dry out a bit. Meanwhile, prepare a medium fire (350° to 375°F) in a charcoal grill, using the direct-heat grilling method (see page 14). When the grill reaches the desired temperature, remove the cedar plank from the water, wipe it thoroughly dry, place the plank on the grate, and char it on oneside for 5 to 7 minutes (you’ll hear some cracking and popping). Turn the plank over so the charred side is up, place the salmon on the plank, and put the plank on the grate. Cover and cook until the internal temperature registers 145°F in the thickest part, about 20 minutes. Remove the plank from the grill and let cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.
  4. To arrange the salad: With the salmon on the plank, arrange all of the salad ingredients around the fish in separate mounds or small bowls. To compose a bite, place a lettuce leaf on your cupped palm, put a little bit of the fish and a few pieces of each of the other salad ingredients into it, and then top it with a teaspoon or so of the dressing. Now gather the edges of the lettuce into a purse andenjoy the whole bite at once.

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