It’s Smokin’

Make this smoked salmon appetizer at your next shindig and get raves

For over eight years in the US, I worked as a caterer at events ranging from small intimate soirées to the Oscars after-parties. While the tastes and styles were vastly different from one event to the other, some items were always welcome – whether at Oprah’s wedding of the century, the Grammy awards party or celebrity house parties for a new album release, a firm favorite was always the smoked salmon with caviar and crème fraiche on potato pancake served as hors d’oeuvres – a crowd pleaser every time, all around the world.

Fresh salmon is easy to find here, but not many people are very familiar with the preparation process. It’s typically a fillet that has been cured and hot- or cold-smoked. Due to its moderately high price, smoked salmon is considered a delicacy in most places. In the US and throughout North America, smoked salmon is most likely to be served sliced very thinly and on bread with cream cheese or with sliced red onion, lemon and capers – and it’s usually served as a breakfast or Sunday brunch. In Europe, slices of smoked salmon are a popular appetizer, usually served with some kind of bread. In the United Kingdom they’re typically eaten with brown bread and a squeeze of lemon, although lemon is usually used to mask the poor quality of the very oily salmon available there. In Germany, smoked salmon is eaten on toast or black bread.

Here in Vietnam, I’ve seen and tasted smoked salmon in many types of cuisine, such as canapés, pizza, sushi roll and freshly-wrapped spring rolls – which I have found very interesting. But my favorite course in smoked salmon is still the hors d’oeuvres.

Here’s my recipe for smoked salmon with caviar and crème fraiche on potato pancake that’s suitable for all occasions and party events – don’t forget to invite Oprah!

SMOKED SALMON WITH OSETRA CAVIAR & CRÈME FRAICHE ON SWEET POTATO PANCAKE

Makes 8 pieces

2 Yukon Gold Potatoes (peeled and grated)

1 Large Egg

¼ cup All-Purpose Flour

¼ cup Crème Fraiche

4 oz Smoked Atlantic Salmon, thinly sliced

1 oz Osetra Caviar

6 Sprigs Baby Dill

Salt & Pepper

2 oz Olive Oil for frying

To prepare the potato pancake:

Squeeze out the juice from the grated potato to avoid having too much liquid. Mix with egg and the all-purpose flour. Add ½ tsp of salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Heat a nonstick pan over a medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Divide the potato evenly and shape these into small pancakes, frying them for 1-2 minutes until each pancake turns golden brown, then turn them over to cook the other side. Remove the pancakes from the pan and cook them in the oven at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. To assemble: Roll the sliced smoked salmon to ¾ inch in diameter and cut into portions of 2 inches in length.

Remove the pancakes from the oven and place the rolled smoked salmon on each one. Spoon a small dollop of crème fraiche on top of the salmon and garnish with Osetra caviar and baby dill. Bon Appetit!

BIO: Vietnamese chef Jack Lee has served a host of Hollywood A-listers from Angelina Jolie to Barbra Streisand, and recently returned to chef for Acacia Veranda Dining (149-151 Nguyen Du, D1). His biography You Don’t Know Jack by Oi writer NPD Khanh will be released later this year.

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