Smoked Whitefish Salad with Plum Dressing

Masu no Bainiku Aé

The Japanese typically serve smoked fish in small boneless, skinless chunks, with a dollop of thick plum sauce to the side. Here I’ve combined a traditional sweet-and-sour plum sauce with a light vinaigrette, making a tart dressing to nap the rich flaked fish. I’ve set out a generous mound of the fish salad on soft lettuce; you might want to serve it with bread sticks or rolls for brunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound smoked whitefish

Traditional Plum Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons bainiku or neri umé (both mean“pickled plum paste”)
  • 1 tablespoon shiro miso (light fermented bean paste)
  • teaspoons mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon dashi (basic sea stock) or water

Salad Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce

Method

  1. Remove the skin from the whitefish and break the flesh into small chunks. Flake the fish, being sure to remove all small bones as you do. Set the flaked fish aside in a bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the traditional plum sauce ingredients. Stir until smooth, and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes, until bubbly, glossy, and fragrant. Stir occasionally as you cook. (Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature if you want to use it plain, or store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator for some future use.)
  3. In a glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid, mix the salad dressing ingredients. Shake to distribute. Add the warm plum sauce, and shake to make a thick dressing.
  4. Pour half the dressing over the flaked fish, and toss to incorporate well. Chill both the dressed fish and the remaining dressing, separately.
  5. Wash and spin-dry the lettuce. Divide the leaves among four plates, and arrange a mound of dressed fish in the center of each plate. Serve additional plum dressing on the side.

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