Made of soft, supple salmon; crisp lettuces and vegetables; and a very savory dressing run through with chiles and lime, this light salad is tangy and full of flavor. The dressing, based on nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce, has just enough fish sauce to give it depth and pungency without overpowering the brightness of the lime.
2 small fresh red or green chiles or 1 large one, thinly sliced, seeds removed if you like
1 shallot (or 2 scallions, or 2 Tbsp red onion), thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fish sauce
Pinch of granulated sugar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, plus more for brushing
1 ¼ lbs salmon fillet, preferably 1 large center-cut piece
8 cups salad greens, such as Little Gem, bibb or Boston lettuce (or spring mix good too)
1 cup mixed soft herbs (such as cilantro, mint and basil), leaves and tender stems
1 cup thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers or both (optional)
- Light the grill for indirect heat, or heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- As the grill or oven heat up, make the dressing: Halve 1 lime, and squeeze its juice into a small bowl. Add the chile slices, half of the sliced shallot (save the rest for serving), the fish sauce and a pinch each salt and sugar. Let sit for 1 minute to dissolve the salt, then whisk in the olive oil. It won’t emulsify, so mix again before using.
- Brush the salmon with oil, and place it in a grilling basket if you have one. Cook over the indirect (unlit) side of the grill, for 2 to 5 minutes per side, depending on how hot the grill is and how thick the salmon is. Note that individual fillets will cook faster than a single large piece. Check the salmon often. (Alternatively, roast the salmon on a baking sheet in the oven, until just cooked to taste, 7 to 12 minutes; you don’t have to flip it.)
- As the salmon cooks, halve the other lime. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and grill, cut-side down, over direct heat until charred, about 1 minute. If using the oven, throw the halves, cut-side up, on the roasting pan with the salmon. They won’t char, but they will cook and mellow in flavor, which is the aim.
- When the salmon is cooked, transfer it to a plate and spoon some dressing over it. Let it cool slightly, then break up the fish into large chunks.
- Place greens, remaining shallots, herbs, and radishes or cucumber, if using, in a large shallow bowl or on a platter, and add a little more of the dressing. Squeeze some of the juice from a charred lime half over it and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss and taste, adding lime juice, olive oil or salt as needed.
- Top with the salmon chunks and drizzle with more (or all) of the dressing. Serve with the remaining charred lime half on the side for squeezing.