Owing to the inherent compatibility of salmon and beetroot there are probably lots of versions of this recipe kicking around. I mean, we are talking of a Rogers and Astaire-type partnership; each making the other look fabulous. I haven’t dared to do a Google search, as I am sure to find the exact duplicate, only prettier and better lit (but not dancing backwards, in heels). The ingredients and method are just too simple for me not to have been beaten to the punch/keyboard. Maybe after I press ‘send’, and this is fired out there into the Internet whateverosphere, I may just have a wee poke around. And have a little cry at my unoriginality.
Anyway, I first had something like this as a light lunch option at the really rather excellent Edinburgh deli-bistro, Porto & Fi. Theirs was more elegantly presented, had a scrummy but calorific (and spice-free) sauce, and was all smoked salmon, but I think this is a pretty decent riff. And a bit healthier, too.
It is ultra-easy to assemble, especially if you have a cooking ring, which you can get from any cookware shop, or sometimes it hangs out with the scone/biscuit cutters in less rarefied retailers. Or you could use a large scone cutter. If not, or you are just making it for yourself, mix the two salmons with the lemon, cardamom and coriander-spiked creme fraiche (or sour cream), lay a little mound on your rocket and top with tiny jewels of cubed beetroot, and a flourish of toasted pumpkin seeds. Either way, you can have lunch in less than fifteen minutes if you are cooking the salmon from scratch: two minutes if the salmon is already poached and waiting. As I have wittered on about before, it is always a clever idea to cook up extras of any protein, be it salmon, chicken, beef, marinated tofu, whatever, for just such a quick meal. It is usually no bother to poach an extra piece of salmon at dinner for the next day’s lunch. Well, in theory. Of course it isn’t a bother, but remembering to buy enough/defrost enough to do so can take up far more brain-power than I can reasonably relinquish to the task.
Although, as a greedy so and so I often make this just for myself, it positively screams – or rather, trills – ladies who lunch. If one is good with presentation (not I) this certainly makes an impressive, low-carbohydrate repast of the most decadent kind. The pseudo-Nordic coriander and cardamom affectation is crucial in my book, but if these aren’t in your cupboard please don’t rush out and get it thinking this will be rubbish without it. Just squeeze in the lemon and give the crème fraiche a stir and you’ll be happy. A dash of fresh horseradish would also be welcome.
You could even push the boat out and serve this with rounds of best rye crispbread. Peters Yard artisan crispbreads are perfect for just such a light lunch; the rye sourdough tang is indescribably more-ish. I sometimes have a couple for breakfast with chopped hard-boiled egg, slivers of cucumber and a schmear of soft cheese. I have a feeling that Mr A thinks the tin housing them still contains the original breads, and that I am eking them out in the manner of a war-time housewife. Afraid not. I have a stash of packets for refilling as and when required.
And a great stash of salmon, piled like so many planks of wood, in my freezer. I get my supply from the Pittenweem fish van that comes around to our little cul-de-sac every Thursday. Even if we are having something else I almost always purchase a few fillets, if only to have a gossip in the street with my fish-loving neighbours. Graeme our fish guy is a real gem, and picture-postcard Scottish with his copper hair and piercing sea-blue eyes. He sells all the ‘normal’ fish but also smokes his own fish and sells homemade fish cakes. And his wife makes delicious jams, curds and cakes to tempt us. Her blackcurrant jam makes me want to give up jam-making forever; the same with her lemon curd. These are gorgeous on the Peters Yard crispbreads, making a lovely marriage of baked grains and mouth-puckering fruit. But don’t worry that I may engage in a little lateral thinking. Although I like to be original, I don’t think even I would try to make fish and lemon curd work. That is definitely one partnership that I won’t find in a Google search. But as for the blackcurrant jam…
Double Salmon and Beetroot Stack with Cardamom-Lemon Crème Fraiche
Miss R’s Track of the Week: Two Door Cinema Club ” Something Good Can Work” – sorry about the buffering, but stick with it!
Pretty quick, pretty impressive, pretty tasty. Or at least I hope you think so…
1 fillet salmon (about 90-100 grams), steamed or poached for five minutes; cooled
1 fillet hot-smoked salmon
½ pack (about 100g) marinated beetroot, diced into tiny cubes – I like Waitrose’s lime zest-infused baby beetroot, but sometimes I do my own marinating with cardamom, coriander and chilli
100 ml low-fat crème fraiche OR sour cream
1 lemon (half is for garnishing)
1/8 – ¼ tsp ground cardamom (depends on the pungency and your own taste)
¼ tsp ground coriander
two handfuls of rocket/arugula leaves
40g pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan until one pops
In a small bowl mix together the crème fraiche, cardamom, coriander and juice of nearly half a lemon; add white pepper to taste and adjust the other spices if needed. Keep handy.
Remove the skin from the fillets, then flake each of the salmon fillets separately. Set aside.
Take two serving plates and place a cooking ring on each (or do one at a time like I do). Lightly press half of the steamed or poached salmon into each ring and season with a little salt and a few drops of lemon juice from the nearly-used up half. Now press on the beetroot cubes followed by the hot smoked salmon. Pour over the lemon-slaked crème fraiche and top with a flurry of rocket leaves and pumpkin seeds. Grind over some black pepper if you like and serve immediately with the remaining lemon. This is lovely as a light lunch, or as a starter course.
Leftovers? If you are making this up for one person, use the leftovers mixed in with cooked pasta for a superior brown bag lunch the next day. Tuck in an extra slice of lemon and a few more leaves.
More calories: Use full-fat crème fraiche and drizzle with a little lemon-infused olive oil.
Less calories: Use two-thirds poached salmon and one-third smoked; use Quark or other skimmed milk soft cheese instead of the crème fraiche.