Fiddlehead ferns—the furled fronds of ferns, which grow wild in Hawaii's lush Waipi'o Valley on the Big Island—often appear in salads at luaus, tossed with everything from fish cakes to dried shrimp. Here, in a version from Tishia Spencer, an attendee of the Mock Chew family annual luau, simple cured salmon beefs up this refreshing side dish. If you can't find fronds, asparagus makes a nice alternative.
Featured in: A Hawaiian Family Meal
- One (1-lb.) skinless salmon fillet
- 1 cup kosher salt, plus more
- 6 oz. fiddlehead ferns, or asparagus cut into 2-inch lengths
- 9 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 Maui sweet or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Freshly ground black pepper
In an 8-inch square baking dish, spread half the salt in an even layer. Place the salmon over the salt and then sprinkle with the remaining salt, tossing to coat completely. Loosely cover the baking dish with plastic wrap, and then top the salmon with a small plate and then a 28-oz. can or weight. Refrigerate the salmon for 1 week.
Uncover the salmon and rinse under water to remove the salt. Chop the salmon into ½-inch cubes and transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the fiddlehead ferns until bright green and crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the fiddleheads and transfer to a bowl of ice water to chill. Drain again, and transfer the fiddleheads to paper towels to dry thoroughly.
Add the fiddleheads to the bowl with the salmon along with the tomatoes and onion, and toss until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.