There are few sandwiches as iconic as the club. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s essentially a BLT with the added bonus of shaved turkey or chicken. It comes in a double or even triple-decker and is generally accompanied by a jazzy toothpick. What’s not to love? Well, if you’re not so much about the meat, it’s not really the sandwich for you. Enter the Crispy Salmon Club – the pescatarian answer to the classic sandwich. This fully-loaded sandwich swaps the turkey for tender chunks of seared salmon and the bacon for crispy fried salmon skin. Piled high with juicy slices of tomato, butter wedges of avocado, and crisp lettuce leaves, this sandwich features all the charms of the original but with a seafaring bent.
Start with a fillet of salmon and make sure you get one with skin on. Carefully remove the skin from the salmon fillet. This is easier if you have a fillet knife but you can get the job done with a regular old chef’s knife with no problem. Go slowly and try your best not to nick the flesh as you cut the skin away. A series of shallow cuts are easier to control than one fallow swoop. I know it looks impressive when the pros do it. But I’m far from a pro when it comes to breaking down a salmon, so I go slow.
Once the skin is separated from the flesh, cover the salmon in your favorite BBQ rub. I used the one detailed below. It’s my go-to all-purpose BBQ rub and it is delicious on just about everything. It’s particularly delightful on chicken and salmon. This recipe makes a lot of rub, far more than you will need for this sandwich, but it’s a great versatile spice to have on hand. Once the salmon is covered, set it aside and move onto the skin.
For the skin, we’re simply going to sprinkle it with salt. We want to keep the seasoning simple here because we will be frying the skin at quite a high heat. The aforementioned BBQ rub contains sugar and a whole host of other herbs and spices that will burn quite readily and leave the skin tasting quite acrid. So leave it at salt and be done with it.
With the salmon flesh and skin primed for cooking, let’s get a little more of the prep work out of the way. Wash and tear a few lettuce leaves, slice your tomato, and mix up the mayo. The mayo is what I like to tackle first, so all the ingredients have a little time to hang out and get acquainted. This lemon mayo is super simple to prepare. All you have to do is mince a clove of garlic and add about a tablespoon of lemon juice to a third of a cup of mayo. Give it a stir and chill until you’re ready to build your sandwich. Be careful not to overdo it with the lemon juice. If you add too much, your mayo will be too loose and not so spreadable. So add the juice slowly and be mindful of the mayo’s viscosity.
The only sandwich item we’re not going to prep ahead of time is the avocado. Why? Because it oxidizes infuriatingly quickly. And while the process doesn’t affect the overall taste, the brown color is less than appetizing. Even though I leave slicing my avocado to the end, I still like to further guard against oxidation by drizzling the slices with lemon juice.
Okay, now let’s cook the salmon. We’re going to tackle the salmon skin first. Pour about an inch of neutral oil into a large skillet. Once the oil is shimmering, add the skin and fry until golden on both sides. Keep an eye on it because the skin can quickly go from crisp and golden to burnt if you’re not careful. To be honest, the skin in these photos is a little darker than I typically like. So watch your salmon skin like a hawk.
Once the salmon skin is done to your liking, quickly remove it from the oil and transfer it to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside to drain. Pour all but two-ish tablespoons of the oil into the skillet. Add the salmon flesh. Sear on both sides and cook until the flesh flakes readily. This is another instance where the item you’re cooking can get away from you. Salmon can go from juicy, tender, and luscious to tough and dry in a heartbeat. To test for doneness, apply a little pressure with your spatula and if the salmon starts to split, take it off of the heat. Using a fork, flake the salmon into large chunks and set aside.
Now, let’s build the sandwich. Start with two pieces of toasted bread. I went with a brioche and I highly recommend going this route. A buttery bread is the perfect companion to buttery salmon. Spread some of the lemon mayo on both slices. Designate one piece as the bottom and place a few lettuce leaves on top of it. Place two slices of the tomato on top and half of the salmon chunks on top of that. You can try to pile all of the salmon onto one sandwich but my fillet was big enough that that wasn’t an option for me. If you have a smaller fillet you might be able to. If not, save the remaining salmon for a salad or a rice bowl later on.
Top the salmon with the crispy salmon skin. Add the avocado and another layer of lettuce. Place the remaining slice of toast on top and secure the sandwich with a skewered pimento-stuffed olive for that iconic cartoon sandwich look.
And that’s everything there is to know about this Crispy Salmon Club Sandwich. A fun and fishy twist on the iconic diner classic.
Crispy Salmon Club Sandwich
- 1 Large skillet
- 2 skewers
All-Purpose BBQ Rub
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp cayenne
Crispy Salmon Club Sandwich
- 1 salmon fillet skin-on
- 1 tbsp all-purpose BBQ rub see above
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup mayo
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 small heirloom tomatoes sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- 4-5 leaves romaine lettuce
- 4 slices brioche toasted
- 2 pimento-stuffed olives
- Place all of the rub ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Measure out a tablespoon of the mixture and transfer the remaining rub to a tight resealable container.¼ cup light brown sugar, 2 tbsp smoked paprika, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp dry mustard, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 2 tsp cayenne
- Carefully remove the skin from the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the flesh with the BBQ rub and season the skin with salt. Set both aside.1 salmon fillet, 1 tbsp all-purpose BBQ rub, ½ tsp salt
- Place the mayo, garlic, and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir to combine and chill until ready to use.⅓ cup mayo, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Pour the oil into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the salmon skin and fry until golden and crispy on both sides. About 3-5 minutes per side. ** Transfer the skin to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside to drain.
- Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet. Add the salmon fillet and cook until the fish flakes readily. About 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and flake the salmon with a fork. Set aside.
- Spread the lemon mayo on each slice of toast. Top with lettuce, tomato, the flaked salmon, the salmon skin, the avocado, and another layer of lettuce. Place the remaining toast on top and secure it with a skewered pimento-stuffed olive. Serve immediately.2 small heirloom tomatoes, 1 avocado, 4-5 leaves romaine lettuce, 4 slices brioche, 2 pimento-stuffed olives