Michael Chiarello’s Marinated Salmon with Fennel Salad

Michael Chiarello's Marinated Salmon

In Memory Of Chef Michael Chiarello
January 26, 1962 – October 6, 2023

Marinated Salmon with Fennel Salad

His love for the Napa Valley is a central theme in his career and philosophy. Michael Chiarrello’s style of cooking married the rich traditions of his Italian culinary heritage with the casual style and fresh flavors of the wine country.

The Chef was renowned for letting good ingredients speak for themselves, cooking in sync with the seasons, and celebrating whatever the market brought. Upon hearing the news of his passing, I wanted to honor his memory by preparing one of his recipes.

Chef Michael Chiarello sadly lost his life due to an acute allergic reaction that ultimately resulted in anaphylactic shock. He was 61 years old when he passed away earlier this month in Napa, California.

🧡 🧡 🧡

About this recipe the Chef wrote, “I discovered this dish on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, an area famous for lemons and wild fennel. The salmon is a sort of ceviche, cooked in lemon juice with olive oil…”

Michael Chiarello's Marinated Salmon

Marinated Salmon with Fennel Salad

This is my adaptation of the Chef’s recipe from my signed copy of his cookbook, “Casual Cooking, Wine Country Recipes for Family and Friends.” His restaurant Tra Vigne in St. Helena, Napa Valley was one of my early favorites. 


12 oz. wild alaska sockeye salmon, sashimi-quality, skinned and pin bones removed

1 celery rib, sliced thin on the diagonal

3 T. lemon juice

1/4 c. olive oil

2 T. fennel fronds, chopped, divided

coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

purple micro mizuna for garnish

Michael Chiarello's Marinated Salmon


Put lemon juice in a small container. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Stir in most of the fennel fronds, reserving some for the fennel salad. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the salmon thinly. Arrange salmon on a platter in a single layer. Scatter celery over the fish.

Pour three-quarters of the marinade over the fish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Before serving, remove salmon from refrigerator then place fennel in a bowl and toss with the remaining marinade and remaining fennel fronds. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange fennel down the center of the fish. Garnish with purple mizuna.


I marinate the sashimi-quality salmon for a much shorter time than the chef recommends and add purple mizuna for garnish, along with a few other minor tweaks. Stellar dish.

Purple Mizuna:

Purple mizuna is known for its attractive, serrated leaves that are typically dark purple or reddish-purple in color. It has a wild flavor reminiscent of Chinese hot mustard. Purple mizuna can be used in a variety of culinary applications. I use it to add color, texture, and flavor. Luckily, some is grown right here in Las Vegas at a local urban indoor farm! Frontier Farms grows fresh Herbs & Greens & Edible Flowers without pesticides or herbicides in a controlled state-of-the-art growing environment.

Michael Chiarello's Marinated Salmon

“To home cooks who understand that gathering
friends and family around the table
is the best way to celebrate life.”

🧡 Rest in Peace, Chef 🧡

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