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Crispy 'Smoked' Salmon With Cold Lentil Salad Takes Flavor Upstream

By Tom Liddy | March 13, 2013 7:02am

NEW YORK CITY — There are a million ways to prepare salmon, but this recipe will help make your cooking one of a kind.

While wild salmon has more intense flavors, it is harder to find and pricier than farmed varieties (get it if you can). I generally tend to stick with farmed King salmon for its fat content and flavor compared to farmed Atlantic salmon.

Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular benefits, making it a good protein choice for dinner. 

Look for pieces that are firm with bright color and a clean smell.

This recipe combines a beautifully seared and then roasted salmon with a smoky Dijon mustard sauce that is a play on the traditional smoked salmon combined with a fresh, cold lentil salad.

The lentils are cooked al dente and then dressed with a tarragon vinaigrette, which has a hint of licorice and combined with the earthy flavors of roasted asparagus for a delicious cold salad.

Since I like to repeat flavors in a dish, mustard and tarragon make an appearance again in the sauce, which is rounded out with smoky bacon and a splash of cream.

And for a dish that so full of complex flavors, it's pretty easy to make. Here's how:


2 Salmon filets, about 6 ounces each (about an inch thick)

1 tsp. Fresh tarragon, chopped

1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces, tough ends discarded

1/2 medium red onion, finely diced

1 1/2 cups green lentils

1 clove garlic minced

Slab bacon - about 3 oz., diced

3 tbs. Dijon mustard (whole grain is good too)

1/2 cup white wine

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

Olive oil

Cream - about 2 tbs.

Salt and Pepper


1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Place the asparagus in a baking pan, splash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until the pieces are cooked through and slightly charred, about 10 minutes and let cool.

3. Fill a medium pot about two-thirds of the way with water, add a pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil.

4. Add the lentils and lower the heat to a simmer, cooking until they are barely cooked through, 12-14 minutes.

5. Drain in a colander and immediately rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

6. In a small bowl combine 1 tbs. of the mustard, half of the tarragon, and the vinegar, season to taste, then whisk in 1 tbs. olive oil.

7. Put the lentils, asparagus and red onion in a mixing bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Check the seasoning and set aside to marinate.

8. Start a medium pan on medium heat and drop the bacon in while the pan is cold. Cook until all the fat is rendered and it is crisp. Pour off all but a teaspoon of the fat.

9. Add the garlic and sautee for about a minute, or until fragrant, then pour in the white wine and deglaze by scraping the brown bits off the bottom.

10. Add in the rest of the mustard and tarragon and reduce until slightly thick, about 5-7 minutes.

11. Then add in the cream and reduce, about another 3 minutes.

12. While the sauce is thickening, start another pan on medium high heat. When it's hot, add a tsp. of olive oil.

13. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper and sear with the flesh side down.  Let cook for at least 5 minutes.

14. The salmon should separate from the bottom of the pan at that point, so flip with a fish slotted spatula or a fish slice if you have one. Sear for another 2 minutes.

15. Place in the oven and cook for another 4-5 minutes, depending on how done you like it.

16. Serve with lentil salad, the sauce and dig in.