Warm Smoked Salmon with Cucumber

This recipe is based on one of the very best things we ate at Ballymaloe (the lovely country house hotel near Cork in Ireland), from one of the chef’s special menus. Not a fan of many cooked smoked salmon dishes, I was quite won over by this treatment. Of course, the chef had the excellent local smoked salmon to work with, and it is really only possible to do it if you have a whole side of smoked salmon, since it is sliced straight down through the thickness of the fillet to the skin, in small, firm slices, not obliquely or horizontally as smoked salmon is usually sliced. Since the salmon really is just warmed through, and barely touches the pan, prepare the cucumber well in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1 small or medium-sized cucumber
  • 1–2 tsp salt
  • 3 fl oz / 85 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tsp finely chopped dill
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 8 slices smoked salmon, 1–2 oz / 30–60 g each, cut as above
  • extra dill, to garnish (optional)

Method

Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthways, and scrape out the seeds. Finely dice and place in a sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and leave for up to 2 hours to disgorge its bitter juices. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Put the cream, dill and cucumber in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Season to taste with white pepper, and keep the sauce warm while you prepare the salmon. Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned frying pan, large enough to hold all the salmon slices in a single layer, and put in the fish. Each side should come into contact with the pan only long enough to turn the surface opaque and no more - literally a few seconds on each side. Divide the sauce between four heated dinner plates and arrange the fish alongside it. Extra dill can be used to garnish, if liked.

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