Salmon Louie

While growing up near Washington’s Puget Sound, I ate many a Crab Louie.


Sometimes called Crab Louis, this fancy salad is usually made with Dungeness crab. Originating on the West Coast in the early 1900s, it’s also known as “King of Salads.”

In my family making Crab Louies was usually a do-it-yourself deal. Mom would put the nut crackers and salad makings on the table, and the fun would begin. Separating the crab from the shells took time, but the effort paid off when we dug into that delicious treat.

Some years ago, I added some leftover salmon to a salad, and the “Salmon Louie” evolved into a family favorite. When I fix it for dinner guests, it always receives raves of appreciation.

My first choice of the main ingredient is king, with sockeye a close second. The fish can be baked, poached, broiled, grilled, pan-fried or even blackened. I usually make it with left-over salmon, but I sometimes cook salmon for no other reason than making a Salmon Louie. I like the fish to be fairly free of rubs, sauces or marinades. The Louie dressing is flavor enough.

Salmon Louie Dressing
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 t. fresh lemon juice
2 t. Worstershire sauce
6 pimento-stuffed olives, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped

Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl. Allow flavors to meld in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Salmon Louie Salad
1 pound salmon, cooked, de-boned and broken into bite-size pieces
8 large romaine lettuce leaves, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
16 fresh asparagus spears, cooked until tender and chilled
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise into 12 long, thin pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced lengthwise into 12 long, thin pieces
4 eggs, hard-boiled, quartered lengthwise
2 large carrots, sliced into 4-inch-long spears
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into bite-size wedges
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 green onions, chopped

Now comes the fun part: making this dish a work of art. On large plates, arrange the salad ingredients on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce. I like to make a clock face with some of the vegetables. For example, place a slice of red pepper at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and a slice of yellow pepper at 12 o’clock, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Place slices of egg, carrot and celery between the pepper slices. Pile a mound of salmon in the center. Add the celery and tomato. Drizzle dressing over the whole shebang, and embellish it with chopped onions. Serves 4.

A one-dish meal, a Salmon Louie can be made hours ahead of time. I usually serve it with bread and white wine, say, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.

This beautiful, tasty dish is perfect for any celebration. What better time to have it than now?

Merry Christmas!

Les Palmer can be reached at


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