Smoked Salmon Tartare
Smoked Salmon Tartare

One significant advantage of being over 50 is no longer having to cook daily for family. But for those who enjoy cooking, or even those who don’t, there are still times it’s necessary – entertaining friends, holiday receptions, or the need for a potluck dish.

Tom Dondero
Tim Dondero

This is an easy, yet elegant, make-ahead appetizer dish as the end-of-year holidays approach. Smoked Salmon Tartare will dazzle guests but won’t break your back or budget. The recipe serves 8-12 as an appetizer. Accompany with unsalted crackers (such as “water” crackers) or thinly sliced baguette. A sauvignon blanc, well chilled, or pinot noir will pair with either dish.

Tartare (“à la tartare,” in culinary French) means “in the Tatar (or Tartar) manner.” The original Tartare was finely chopped raw beef, typically mixed with raw egg, onion, and capers. Serving raw chopped beef was picked up by the Russians in past centuries from their nomadic Mongol-Turkic Tatar neighbors. “Steak tartare” is now a well-established European, especially French, dish.

My “tartare” contains quasi-raw smoked salmon, but like the beef original it includes capers and onion. Hard-boiled egg, optionally, can be used as a toping.Feature-Icon

Smoked Salmon Tartare

1/2 pound smoked salmon (cold-smoked, as from Scotland or Norway, or hot-smoked, as from Alaska)

2 tablespoons finely minced red onion

1 tablespoon drained capers, coarsely chopped if larger than peppercorns

1 tablespoon snipped or coarsely chopped fresh dill, plus dill sprigs for garnish

6 hearty grinds of black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 hardboiled egg, white part only, finely minced, for garnish (optional)

On a cutting board, using a chef’s knife, finely chop the salmon (minus any skin). Mix well in a bowl with minced onion, seasonings and capers. Taste, and add salt only if needed (smoked salmon is salted). Refrigerate, covered, at least half an hour — preferably overnight.

Serve in a decorative bowl or heaped up on an attractive small platter. Garnish (if desired) by sprinkling with minced hard-cooked egg whites. Top with dill sprigs.

Look for Part 2 of Baxter Street dining in Winter issue of BoomAthens.

Tim Dondero is co-owner and executive chef at Donderos’ Kitchen, 590 N. Milledge Ave. He retired last year from his day job as a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. During his long career in international health and infectious diseases, he and his family lived for many years in Southeast Asia and West Africa. He also worked extensively in the Americas, Asia and Africa. An enthusiastic cook since childhood, he always sought out local restaurants and local cooks when traveling. Now in Athens, he devotes his time to his restaurant, catering, teaching and blogging about cooking (timdonderosrecipes.blogspot.com)

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