When the blank space earmarked “seafood” came up in the plans for CityCenter’s Aria, the name Michael Mina quickly surfaced. The chef, who was already running Michael Mina at Bellagio, Nobhill and Seablue at the MGM Grand, and Strip Steak at Mandalay Bay, has made his name synonymous with creative fish cooking.
What he aims for at his newest restaurant, American Fish, is a refined take on regional American seafood, using various cooking techniques such as ocean-water poaching, cast-iron grilling and wood smoking.
Mina chose to share the recipe for his Smoked Salmon BLT appetizer because it is fast, simple and visually impressive, requiring only a saucepan and a few bowls—as opposed to the sophisticated gizmos he uses for his various fish entrées.
The chef looks confident and relaxed in his trademark black tunic as he prepares this delicious appetizer, one that is sure to be a hit at any home gathering.
As Mina spoons the salmon mixture on a perfect rectangle of the toast, he has his game face on. “It’s best to use a rectangular metal mold,” he says. “But cut the crusts off carefully, and you can do it free-form as well.”
Of course, a chef like Mina makes everything look easy. But this is one dish you can try at home. And don’t forget to break out the bubbly to enhance the flavors.
SMOKED SALMON BLT
With watercress, tomato reduction
- 4 slices of sourdough, each ½-inch thick
- 8 slices of crispy bacon
- 8 ounces of diced smoked salmon
- 1 tablespoon of chopped capers
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of small diced red onions
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- ½ clove garlic
- 1 sprig fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon crème fraiche or sour cream
- 1 lemon
- 4 ounces fresh watercress
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pan-fry the sourdough bread in olive oil until golden brown, keeping the middle soft.
Dice the salmon, then season with salt, pepper and chopped capers, mixing in the mayonnaise, half the diced red onions and lemon zest (use a microplane grater).
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds, shock in ice water, then peel them and cut into 4 wedges. Remove the seeds and cut the tomato meat into small cubes. Add the chopped garlic, chopped basil, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and crème fraiche, seasoning the mix with salt and pepper.
Wash and pick the watercress.
For the tomato reduction, add the honey to 1 cup of boiling water, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and the balsamic vinegar, reducing until it gets a syrupy consistency. Season the reduction with salt and black pepper.
To assemble the sandwich, layer the tomato mix onto one slice of the seared bread, cover with another slice, and then add the bacon slices and watercress.
Top the sandwich with the smoked salmon mix and the rest of the red onions (to taste). Serve the remaining watercress on the side. – Recipe from Michael Mina’s American Fish restaurant
Bob Howald, proprietor of Valley Cheese and Wine (1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson), recommends a crisp Spanish sparkling wine, Segura Viudas ($11.99), to go with this dish. It’s a yeasty blend of three grape varietals and will “cut the richness of the bacon and smoked fish like a knife blade.”