A classic moment of festive lunches and dinners is when the tray of the smoked salmon, followed by the basket in which the triangles of toasted bread, the saucer of butter and lemon wedges. Each diner uses it and composes his croutons on his plate. Always appreciated but, year after year … in the end maybe a little bored! If you are looking for new and original ways to change this ritual, without distorting it and even enhancing the taste of Nordic fish, here is a roundup of ideas to try!
Instead of bread
A typical base, used in Russian cuisine to serve caviar, are i blinis, small pancakes prepared with buckwheat flour and also excellent with gravlax, dry marinated salmon, homemade with our recipe. You can also realize Pancake traditional, the same as for breakfast, but in the mignon version: the right size is obtained by cooking a spoonful of batter at a time. Among the variations, try the one with peas: the bright green will make a nice contrast with the salmon pink. Another typical "canapé" of Eastern Europe are the latkes, a kind of pancakes, similar to Rosti Swiss, made with grated potatoes, flour, eggs and sometimes onions. From Germany to the Baltic countries, they are prepared for Chanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights that falls between November and December, and are also perfect for our Christmas. In the Scandinavian countries the potatoes they are a classic side dish for salmon in all sauces. You can boil some large ones al dente, even with the peel, cut them into thick slices, brown them in butter until golden and crunchy and use them as a canapé. Or, roast some new potato chips whole, cut a slice on the side, hollow out the pulp a little, season with melted butter, salt, pepper and make up mini jacket potatoes stuffed with salmon flakes. Do you prefer something "pany"? Prepare, or buy in pastry, large cream puffs empty, with no or very little sugar in the dough. Cut them in half and fill them with one of the creams in the next paragraph and strips of salmon. Last proposal: a sushi smoked. Cook, season and cool the special Japanese rice, form elongated meatballs, spread them with a veil of mayonnaise, horseradish sauce or strong mustard and cover with slices of salmon, for a nigiri very Christmas.
NB: all these preparations will be brought to the table on a tray, already packaged, in finger food style and guests will only have to serve themselves!
Instead of butter
From northern and eastern Europe you can copy the tradition of sour cream, or crème fraîche, which can be purchased ready or can be prepared at home by mixing the juice of a lemon for every 100 g of fresh cream, or cream and Greek yogurt in equal parts with a few drops of lemon: in both cases, half an hour of rest for the cream to thicken, perfect to use in curls to garnish croutons and variations. A more local idea is to use an excellent one mascarpone cheese very fresh. If butter remains your first option, try it in version flavored. Let it soften at room temperature and work it into a cream, with a spatula, incorporating a few drops of lemon juice, a grind of pepper and a very fine mince of chives, dill or chervil: obtained a homogeneous whole, form a small sausage, wrap it in aluminum and let it harden in the fridge. Serve it in slices. The same herbs can also perfume sour cream, mascarpone or a fresh spreadable cheese, the cream cheese that in the USA stuffs i bagel – take a look – with salmon. And if there is someone intolerant to dairy products? Prepare one avocado cream, the most "buttery" fruit there is! Blend it to make it smooth, with a drizzle of oil, pepper and, if you like, a pinch of paprika. No salt because the salmon will already be very savory on its own. Finally, surprise everyone by depositing the slices of fish on a teaspoon of scrambled eggs, left very soft ("blenny", as French cuisine commands): the combination, a classic for toast and sandwiches, on the festive table will surprise guests.
Instead of lemon
A sour note is needed to balance the fatness of the salmon. What usually comes from lemon juice can be replaced with that of lime or, for a scenographic version, with pearls of finger lime, an unusual fruit with a spherical pulp, similar to a sour and aromatic caviar. You can also try a few drops of excellent balsamic vinegar, whose sweetness dilutes the salinity of the fish. You can combine citrus juices zest grated and peel fillets, also of oranges or mandarins, or a very fine diced cedar including rind, albedo (the white part, which is sweet in cedar) and pulp. But here we are already in the field of seals.
The extra touch
To complete the croutons or other creative versions, a touch of color is always welcome. According to tradition, it can be a tuft of dill, fennel, chervil or a crunchy leaf of curly parsley. But if you want your guests to experience a little explosion of taste at the bite, let your imagination run wild! Garnish the salmon with thin slices made from a baby leek And capers pickle. Or with the most tender leaves and inflorescences of a heart of turnip greens: raw, the almost mustardy scent of this vegetable will be clearly perceived, which goes well with smoked fish. The Swedes know this when they serve it with a mustard sauce. With the same logic, you can add a few bits of fruit mustard, finely chopped. Very Christmas and in perfect accord of taste the red fruits, some grains of currant or a raspberry, refresh and make the whole lively. It was said, then, of the combination with eggs. So why not decorate your smoked finger food with small ones quail eggs? It is the suggestion of the recipe of the latkes that we leave you. And good salmon it is!
Potato latkes with chive crème fraîche and quail eggs.
1) Cook 12 quail eggs in water, initially cold, 3 minutes from boiling. Drain them, let them cool and shell them. Finely chop a sprig of chervil and a few stalks of chives and mix them with 150 g of crème fraîche.
2) Grate a small onion with a large hole grater on a clean cloth and squeeze it. Peel, grate and squeeze 4 medium potatoes (possibly floury) in the same way (one at a time).
3) Mix the potatoes and onion (if the dough is wet, squeeze it again). Add an egg, chopped chives, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of flour. Spoon the mixture into a pan with oil and butter, forming many pancakes of about 5 cm in diameter that you will flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
4) Cook them 3-5 minutes per side over medium-high heat until they are golden and crispy. Drain them on kitchen paper and garnish with the slices of salmon (200 g in total), a teaspoon of crème fraîche, half a quail egg and chervil leaves. For 4 people.
Francesca Romana Mezzadri