Friday, June 26, 2009
I attended college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, a small town near the Indiana border. While I took away many fond memories from that time, one of the ones I relate most often is about a salad. Am I a sad food dork? Maybe. Was it a really great salad? Hell yes. So good in fact, I made a diversion on a recent road trip, just to have it again. Didn’t see much else on campus but had to have that salad.
The Smashed Salmon Salad at Kona Bistro
is a really interesting combination of textures and flavors. The dish starts with a bed of spinach, layered with garlic mashed potatoes, a piece of grilled salmon, fresh roma tomato slices, and a dollop of homemade mango chutney. A piece of crusty bread gets served alongside. There is no dressing, but when you “smash” the layers together, each bite is flavorful with just the right amount of wet and dry ingredients, and contrasting textures. Delicious! I am not one to order the same thing twice at any restaurant but this is where I make an exception. Whenever I’ve gone back to Kona (a great restaurant all around, by the way), I just have to have it. Make sure to hit it up the next time you’re in Oxford…
This salad was notable to me for three reasons. 1) It has mango chutney. I had never even heard of mango chutney the first time I ordered this salad. It remains one of my favorite condiments to this day. Stonewall Kitchens makes a good bottled variety. One of these days I’ll call Kona and get the recipe for their chutney so I can make it myself. While we’re on the topic, I just had some really great chutneys at Veerasway
in the West Loop of Chicago the other day. They’ve got this coconut one that was really addictive. 2) This salad was one of the first times a meal caused me to stop and think — I started noticing flavors, textures and became conscious of wanting to try new foods I’d never heard of before (the chutney). 3) The salad was only $6! Can you believe that? As a poor college student, this was absolutely the icing on the cake (or maybe the chutney on the salmon … sorry, couldn’t help it). Five years later it’s $10.75 … my how the times change.
I’ve since made this salad a couple of times. The ingredients are pretty straightforward, so it’s easy to try to replicate (although my attempts have never produced anything quite as good as the original). In addition to being tasty, it’s also really colorful and pretty. The above pic doesn’t really do it justice (I forgot to take the pic until I was halfway through it…) but you get the idea.
You should try it. You won’t be sorry you did. It’s easy enough to make for one during the week, or it’d be a really great dish to make for guests too. Super simple but impressive in its ingredients. Let me know how it turns out!