Salmon with Cantaloupe and Fried Shallots

John Shields of Town House in the small town of Chilhowie, Virginia, composed this dish from ingredients he picked up at his local supermarket. The magic is in the play of textures and flavors: The salmon skin and shallots—both potato-chip crisp— are wonderful with the tender, flaky fish and sweet pieces of melon.


video Best New Chef 2010: John Shields


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
fried shallots
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced crosswise and separated into rings
  • Cornstarch, for dusting
  • Salt
salmon and garnishes
  • Four 6-ounce, skin-on salmon fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 small cantaloupe, scooped into small balls or cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • Freshly grated horseradish
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves

How to make this recipe

  1. In a small bowl, combine the horseradish, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  2. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. Put the shallot rings in a colander and dust heavily with cornstarch, shaking to coat them well. Add the shallots to the hot oil in an even layer and fry over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried shallots to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the salmon skin side down and cook over high heat until the skin is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked.

  4. Meanwhile, divide the cantaloupe among 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle with the buttermilk and season lightly with salt. Lay the salmon on the cantaloupe and spoon the vinaigrette on top. Sprinkle with the lime zest and grated horseradish. Scatter the celery leaves and fried shallots over the salmon and serve.

Make Ahead

The vinaigrette and fried shallots can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

Suggested Pairing

Viognier, a white grape variety originally from France's Rhône Valley, produces ripe, luscious wines when grown in Southern California: Those qualities make it ideal for rich fish with fruit salsa or accompaniments like cantaloupe.

Contributed By Photo © Anna Williams Published July 2010

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