Grace Hwang Lynch

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

Grace Hwang Lynch

Grace Hwang Lynch
Silicon Valley, California,
December 31
I'm a former television news reporter. Currently a communications consultant, freelance writer, and mother of two. I write about raising a multicultural family at HapaMama, and I'm also the News & Politics Editor at BlogHer. My work has been published in several magazines and newspapers, as well as in the anthologies "Lavaderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word" and "Mamas and Papas:On the Sublime and Heartbreaking Art of Parenting" by City Works Press. Follow me on Twitter: @HapaMamaGrace


SEPTEMBER 26, 2010 7:46PM

Scandinavian Salmon Poke

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Salmon poke ingredients

Jonathan Franzen's Freedom has consumed the attention of readers, including the Salon Reading club — and now even Oprah has made peace with the past, and picked the novel for her book club. Freedom is the kind of story you can get lost in, and wonder where time went, when all of a sudden you realize it is dinnertime and there is no food to eat.

Reading and cooking have always gone together for me. A author can tell so much is depicting a meal,  such as wartime dumplings of Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club to Franzen's own Dinner of Revenge from The Corrections. 

Freedom's main character Patty starts out as a young East Coast woman who marries a Minnesota Swede. They settle down to raise a family and gentrify a Schlitz-drinnking  St. Paul neighborhood. Patty spends her afternoons listening to public radio, cooking from the Silver Palate Cookbook, and rewards herself with a glass of Zinfandel at the end of the day (her gossipy neighbor prefers Beaujolais Nouveau).

Although Patty is described as an excellent cook, I could have used a few more details. What kind of food would Patty have prepared? I can only imagine that being the 1980s, when salmon captured to the fancy of the American palate  and being married to a man of Swedish heritage,  salmon would have been on the menu.

Alas, my copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook contains  no recipe for salmon, and my own experience with Swedish cuisine is confined mainly to the IKEA cafeteria. While most diners order the meatballs, I prefer the open faced salmon sandwich: slices of gravid lax, sliced hardboiled egg and fronds of fresh dill served atop a rye toast.

Traditional recipes for gravid lax , or gravlax, require five days to cure the salmon. So I've decided to blend the crisp flavors of Scandinavia with a quicker method of preparing salmon: poke.


I had the best intentions in creating this recipe, but unfortunately, got something wrong — probably too much lemon juice, which turned the poke into a ceviche.

So, like a good work of fiction, any resemblance my recipe bears to an actual poke is purely coincidental. Perhaps Francis Lam, in his Infinite Chef-ness, or one of my fellow Open Salon bloggers can suggest how this recipe can be edited.

Scandinavian Salmon Poke


1/3 lb. Fresh salmon fillet (buy it specially marked for sashimi at a Japanese market, or make sure you're on good terms with the fishmonger)

1/4 tsp.  Dried dill weed

1/4 c. Dried wakame seaweed

2 Tbs. Finely diced red onion

1/4 c.Diced English cucumber

1/4 c. Lemon juice

1/4 c. Grapeseed or canola oil

 Coarse sea salt, to taste

Rye crackers or toasted dark rye bread


Soak dried wakame in bowl of warm water for 30 minutes. When the seaweed becomes soft and pliable, squeeze out excess water. 

Skin the salmon, if necessary, and cut into 1/2" cubes.

Whisk together lemon juice and grapeseed oil.

Put cubed salmon, red onion, cucumber in a bowl.

Pour dressing over mixture, sprinkle sea salt to taste (I like it on the briny side, reminds me of the ocean).

Sprinkle with dill weed

Serve with rye crackers or toast.

Pour yourself a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau or Zinfandel and enjoy!







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Grace, I know what it's like to get involved in a book (or OS!) and think if I just keep reading, maybe the little fairies will come in and prepare dinner. They rarely do. I just checked the poke recipe I made with tuna & there's no acid. A couple months ago, I attended a cooking demonstration by Marcus Samuelsson and he made a salmon gravlax - it was a thing of beauty, and he cut off the ends and fried them.
When I started tossing the salmon with the dressing and saw it turning opaque, I wanted to cry. It still tastes good -But in a ceviche way. Do you think lemon zest instead of juice could impart the flavor without the reaction?
Nothing wrong with ceviche - and the red onion & cukes complement that. Sounds delicious!
Oops, Paul. I accidentally deleted your comment, along with Ed Hardy and Louis Vuitton.

thanks for stopping by!
Grace, I eat the lox plate at Ikea while my kids are eating their Swedish meatballs! I agree that the lemon juice tripped you up here. Zest would work or just a squeeze of lemon juice immediately before serving, I think. But sounds like a summery, light ceviche, so no harm done, right?
Yes, it was the lemon juice that made it ceviche. Poke doesn't have an acid, primarily leaning on soy sauce and sesame oil for the marinade.

Zest could work, or perhaps lemon salt. When I preserve lemons in salt for Moroccan tagines I always get a nice byproduct... lemon flavored coarse salt. :)
Grace, this sounds yummy! Funny you should link this to your passion for reading--I've gotten sucked into Stieg Larson's trilogy and have a gotten craving for Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches (which are eaten constantly in the books by people thinking dark and tortured thoughts). This salmon prep on some good dark bread may be just what I've been looking for!
David, I could use some of that lemon flavored salt!

Felicia, that is exactly the kind of sandwich I was inspired by.