PERFECTLY POSITIONED NEAR the bayfront, Fish provides an idyllic atmosphere — sunny picnic tables, salty air, a seemingly endless array of sailboats — for sampling fresh, in-season seafood alfresco. With the welcome inclusions of draft beer, wine and a kids’ menu — yeah, they’ve got one — it comes as no surprise that the cash-only eatery has long been a hot spot for locals and visitors alike (pro tip: call in your order if you’re planning to swing by during lunch hour). For the last three years, chef Douglas Berstein has been leading the kitchen, an enterprise that is at times extremely challenging, considering that more often than not, Bernstein does not know what will be available until the night before service. “As we purchase only in-season, responsibly caught fish, selected from healthy fishing stocks, planning a menu for a busy restaurant can be tough,” Bernstein says. “But it’s one of the most exciting and creative parts of my job.” The chef is forced to be flexible, utilizing often disregarded cuts and bits to create delicious dishes that are at times unique and at times wonderfully classic (the crab roll and the fish taco plate never disappoint). Before joining Fish, Bernstein honed his skills at San Francisco eateries like Farallon and Acquerello as well as Eccolo and Disco Volante in the East Bay, where he worked as executive chef. Here, the seasoned chef shares a recipe for an equally seasoned Jerk Grilled California King Salmon Belly Salad, a dish that is representative of Fish’s contemporary coastal menu — and a delicious summer salad to prepare at home for friends and family.
Jerk Grilled California King Salmon Belly Salad
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 whole garlic cloves
- 1-inch piece of ginger
- 4 green onions with tops
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 Scotch bonnet chile
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 4 salmon bellies, cleaned (skin on)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 lemons (zest and juice)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 head of little gem
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 half jicama, skinned and sliced
- Lime wedges
- Combine spices, garlic, ginger, green onions, soy sauce, thyme, chile and brown sugar until smooth to create your marinade.
- Place salmon bellies and jerk marinade in large ziplock bag, ensuring fish is well coated.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours. Working over a medium-hot grill, lay bellies skin side down.
- Rotate once after 4 minutes, and flip once after another 4.
- After a total of 10 minutes, remove bellies from grill (unlike the fillet, salmon bellies benefit from being cooked through; it breaks down the collagen and starts to render some of the fat).
- Mix yogurt with lemon zest and juice, adding salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
- Lay the bellies on a platter or individual plates, placing a simple salad of little gems, cucumber and jicama alongside.
- Finish the salad with dressing and fresh lime wedges before serving.