una salad, anyone? Of course not. Diners can make that at home. Chef-driven eateries
evaluate the plethora of sea creatures and interpret them in unimagined ways on the salad
plate. But as creative chefs explore the deep, they have to find a balance, not only in flavor,
but on the spreadsheet. Profitability matters as much as the perfect vinaigrette.
The impulse to explore the marriage of seafood and salad for executive chef Olivier Gaupin
came as he observed an uptick in guests wanting fresh fish simply grilled and served over a salad
at Saltwood, his restaurant at Loews Atlanta Hotel. “The pattern of people wanting to eat healthier
is bigger than ever, and seafood is healthy in general, so I use it as much as possible,” he says.
Popular on his menu is a salad of charred octopus with pickled baby beets, chorizo, candied
pistachios, and pear and poppy seed vinaigrette. But he has other combinations up his sleeve, starting
with fresh, crisp arugula. The candied pistachios always work well, as does a form of the vinaigrette.
Besides octopus, he likes to top salads with such shaved fish as sea scallops, shrimp or lobster.
In summer, sophistication and simplicity come together for Gaupin with the combination of
heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, pickled red onions and cobia from the Gulf Coast with a squeeze
of lemon juice and fresh Georgia olive oil. “There’s no need to make food complicated,” he says.
AFFORDABLE AND UNDERUSED FISH
Affordability is a matter of location. Antonio Marquez, chef/owner of La Zaranda Modern
Kitchen & Tequila, Dallas, also is chef/co-owner of five restaurants in Monterrey, Mexico,
where abalone is beloved but underused. “Now it’s being raised on farms, so it’s cheaper and
easier to find than before,” he says.
He also notes that smoked oysters work well in salads and aren’t expensive. To smoke the
oysters, he soaks wood chips in tequila overnight and drops them into the smoker the next day.
He places the oysters in the smoker and covers them with banana leaves, which adds moisture so
he can expose the oysters to smoke a little longer without them shrinking.
Jeff Pond, chef/partner of Area Four, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and A4 Pizza, Somerville,
Massachusetts, is cognizant of the sometimes high price of fish, produce and other items, which
blue Crab aND TuNa
le TTuCe roll salaD
Antonio Marquez, chef/owner, La Zaranda
Modern Kitchen & Tequila, Dallas,
and chef/co-owner, five restaurants,
YIELD: 4 PORTIONS
3 oz. fresh tuna, fine diced
3 oz. premium blue crabmeat, shredded
1 t. shredded ginger
5 T. lime juice, divided
1 T. + 1 cup soy sauce, divided
1 T. fine diced red onion
1 t. fine diced serrano pepper
1 T. fine chopped cilantro
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 large romaine lettuce leaves,
4 T. fresh cream
Pinch each salt and black pepper
4 T. honey
2 T. finely chopped salted peanuts
2 T. beet sprouts
2 T. julienned serrano pepper
2 T. red onion strips
1) Place tuna in mixing bowl; add
crabmeat, ginger, 3 T. lime juice, 1 T.
soy sauce, diced red onion, diced serrano
pepper, cilantro and 1 T. olive oil.
Refrigerate, covered, for 15 minutes.
2) In medium pan, boil water with 1 T.
of salt. Reduce heat; add lettuce leaves
to blanch for 1 minute. Gently remove
leaves to ice water to cool quickly. Drain
3) Peel and deseed avocado. In mixer
or bowl, add remaining 2 T. lime juice,
cream, salt and pepper; mix or blend
to soft cream. Check seasoning; adjust.
Cover with plastic wrap; reserve.
4) In small saucepan, mix remaining 1
cup soy sauce and honey. Over medium
heat, reduce by half, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat; cool.
5) Cut 4 (8x8-inch) sheets plastic wrap.
Remove hard white part from blanched
lettuce leaves. Place 2 leaves on each
sheet. On top, at center, put a quarter
of crab/tuna mixture. Close lettuce over
top; roll to form long, firm “sushi roll.”
Refrigerate 30 minutes.
6) Remove rolls from refrigerator. Cut
each into 4 or 5 segments (discard
plastic wrap). To plate, place avocado
cream in center as base; place rolls on
top. Sprinkle chopped sauteed peanuts
on top of each roll. With spoon, spread
soy/honey reduction on top of rolls and
over center of plate. Sprinkle with olive
oil drops. Place beet sprouts, julienned
serrano pepper and red onion strips
IS HEALTHY IN
GENERAL, SO I
USE IT AS MUCH
— Olivier Gaupin,
Saltwood at Loews
oPPosi Te: blue crab and tuna lettuce