Sunday, August 3, 2014
When we were living in Norway we noticed a recurring ingredient combined with typically savory things (meat dishes as well as salted/pickled herring): something sweet. Meat would be served with sweet lingon berry jam (you can get a taste of the combination if you order the meatballs with lingon berry jam at Ikea). Salted or pickled fish would be preserved in a sweet, vinegary brine.
In this salmon tartare recipe all of these things are present, combined with another key item: dill. We've adjusted the sweetness so that it is not prominent but goes altogether well with the other ingredients.
We adapted this recipe from one we made at a Scandinavian cooking class we took in NYC, which was an experience in itself. There were some bicontinental Swedes, a Dane, some hipsters eager to learn how to cook a quail, but no Norwegians. Since then we've been making our own version on a regular basis in our kitchen, especially when we want to have something to drink and snack on before dinner.
This appetizer combines four of the basic flavors: sweet, sour (vinegar), salty, and umami (salmon). As always, please feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste. Like your savory dish on the sweet side? Double the agave, omit the salt. Don't like horseradish? Skip it. This appetizer responds very well to variations, and although we always use the same ingredients, we don't measure them, relying on taste alone. Sometimes Tony makes it his way, sometimes I make it, it's never exactly the same but the underlying flavor when we both sample it and nod to each other "yes, that's it" remains the same.
This appetizer goes really well with gløgg or aquavit. If you want to have several options for the smoked salmon tartare appetizer, you can also try the one we made before with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil here.
Scandinavian Salmon Tartare Appetizer
Adapted from ICE (institute of culinary education) recipe
You will need:
4 oz smoked salmon, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp capers, chopped
1/2 tbsp agave
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp horseradish, or to taste
2 tbsp dill
Coarse salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine salmon, onion and capers. Add agave, cider vinegar, horseradish and dill. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper (depending on your preferences, you might find the saltiness of the salmon sufficient for the appetizer). Serve with crackers or cucumber slices.