I never quite know what to call these salads that straddle the boundary between hot and cold. Salade tiède is the French term, but the English equivalent – “warm salad” – seems rather drab in comparison. In any case, this salad is unlikely to be anything more than enthusiastically room temperature by the time the salmon has cooled and the potatoes have stood for a while.
It is warm only in the sense that it is not served fridge cold – a chilly state that rarely does food any favours.
Anyway, this is a dish that moves the taste buds decisively into springtime mode and even, perhaps, hints at the summer to come. Jersey royals, the first precocious potatoes of the year, have been around for a month or so now and, all being well, are no longer quite as eye wateringly expensive as they were. Other new potatoes would obviously do in their stead.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
4 x 125g salmon fillets
500g jersey royal new potatoes
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste
4 tbsp small capers, rinsed
1 unwaxed lemon
4 tbsp chopped chives
2 handfuls small mint leaves
4 handfuls watercress
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the salmon fillets in a single layer, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 9-10 minutes until just cooked through – they should retain a blush of deep pink in the centre. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
Empty the pan and refill with cold water. Salt generously and add the jersey royals. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until easily pierced to the middle with the tip of a knife. Drain and leave to cool a little, then slice in half lengthways.
Meanwhile, put the mustard and vinegar in a mixing bowl and whisk together.
Gradually whisk in the olive oil to form a thick dressing. Stir in the red onion, garlic and ¾ of the capers. Zest the lemon (use a zester or coarse grater) and squeeze the juice. Add the juice and ¾ of the zest to the bowl, as well as ¾ of the chives, and stir together. Season with 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Tip a few tbsp of the dressing into a small bowl and put to one side. Add the potatoes to the rest of the dressing and stir together. Leave to get acquainted for a few minutes.
Break the salmon into large flakes, removing the skin and any bones. Add to the potatoes with the watercress and ¾ of the mint leaves. Gently fold together, trying not to break up the salmon too much. Divide between 4 plates and splash with the remaining dressing.
Scatter with the last of the capers, chives and mint, add a final grind of black pepper, and serve.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book isGood Things to Eat.