Spring Salmon with Fennel Salad | Wine Enthusiast
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Spring Salmon with Fennel Salad

Courtesy Hector Laguna, executive chef, Botanist, Vancouver

Some of Vancouver’s most elegant plant-forward cuisine flourishes at Botanist, which opened in 2017 inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. Here, Chef Hector Laguna and Jill Spoor, wine director for Fairmont’s Pacific Northwest properties, share a passion for environmentally sensitive farming as a means to express terroir. This dish uses the Chinook (king) salmon found in B.C. waters in spring and summer. Be sure to use the freshest fish you can find.


1 ear corn
1 orange
1 bulb fennel, cored and
thin-shaved, fronds chopped
5 chives, fine-chopped
5 sprigs cilantro, fine-chopped
2 5-ounce skin-on, boneless salmon fillets (preferably Chinook), room temperature
Vegetable oil, for pan
Salt, to season
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Lemon, to finish
Flaky sea salt, to finish


Cook corn on open fire or gas burner, turning often until slightly charred, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Scrape kernels into large mixing bowl.

Peel orange and remove pith. Cut along membranes to separate segments. Set aside membrane.

Add orange segments, fennel, chives and cilantro to bowl with corn. Set aside.

Heat oven to 400˚F. Warm ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with vegetable oil. Salt both sides of salmon and place in pan, skin-side down. Cook without moving, until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until medium-rare, about 5 minutes.

Squeeze juice from reserved orange membrane into salad and add olive oil. Toss to coat, and salt to taste. Divide among 2 plates.

Remove pan from oven and add butter. Carefully flip salmon, and baste to crisp skin, about 30 seconds.

Place salmon skin-side up on top of salad. Squeeze lemon over fish, and sprinkle with sea salt and fennel fronds. Serves 2.

Pair It

Anarchist Mountain Vineyard 2016 Elevation Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley). “This wine perfectly represents the cooler climate expressions of Chardonnay in the Okanagan Valley,” says Wine Director Jill Spoor. “The abundance of exhilarating natural acidity lifts the richer fruit and oak notes so that the wine appears lighter and more elegant in style. It’s the distinctive freshness [that]makes this such a beautiful pairing to the spring salmon, also very fresh in its flavor profile.”

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