Salmon either raw, seared and raw in the middle or lightly smoked all show the fish at its best, and it is possible to combine raw with smoked to good effect. When raw or smoked, salmon is very rich, so one does not need a large amount for a first course.
Few would dispute that the best smoked salmon comes from Scotland and, while wild salmon is the ultimate choice, we now have very good organically farmed salmon which is raised in pens that are not overcrowded and are situated in strong currents that make the fish swim. You can always tell by the price: if the salmon is very cheap it will be nasty, flabby and rank-tasting. Buy fillet from the tail end, which will be cheaper than a middle cut.
If you can get them, salt-packed capers are preferable to the ones sold in brine. Rinse them and the fish before use.
Run your finger along the pin bone line of the salmon fillet to ensure that all the bones have been removed, then skin and cut the flesh into small dice. Put into a bowl with the smoked salmon.
Add the mustard, lemon juice, capers, shallots and chives. Season with a little salt and lots of pepper and refrigerate for 2–4 hours.
Whip the cream to soft peaks in a bowl, being careful not to take it too far, and fold the tartare into it.
Toast the slices of bread, cut off the crusts and put on cold serving plates. Pile the mixture neatly on top and garnish with 2 chives cut in half on each.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.