Smoking-Hot Salmon

By Lynda Balslev
Lynda Balslev
Lynda Balslev
Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Lynda studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.
November 15, 2021 Updated: November 15, 2021

As we head into the holiday season, it’s handy to have a few healthy appetizers and snacks up our sleeves for guilt-free meals and nibbling before and between festivities. Hot-smoked salmon salad should be on your list. It’s a healthy, elegant, and seriously tasty salad—served chilled, despite the name—that is delightfully versatile and can be easily made in advance of serving.

The key to the recipe is to use hot-smoked salmon, not cold-smoked salmon. What’s the difference? While both methods rely on using super-fresh salmon, the main difference is the smoking temperature. Cold-smoked salmon is smoked at a lower temperature, approximately 80 degrees F, which imparts a mild smoky flavor without cooking the fish. The result is a fresh, moist texture, which is similar to sashimi.

Hot-smoked salmon is smoked hotter, at 120 degrees or higher, which yields a drier, flakier fish with a strong smoky flavor. It’s this flaky texture and smoky flavor that are ideal (and addictively tasty) in this recipe.

Once the salad is prepared, it can be refrigerated for two days. When ready to use, spread it on bread for an open-face sandwich or tartine as a healthy lunch; wrap it in lettuce leaves for a gluten-free appetizer; or dress it up in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips or crostini for easy entertaining.

Hot-Smoked Salmon Salad

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes about 2 cups salad

  • 12 ounces hot-smoked salmon, pin-bones and skin removed, flaked
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix with a fork to thoroughly combine. If too dry, add additional yogurt or lemon juice. The salad should be moist but not too wet. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to two days.

Hot-Smoked Salmon Tartines

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes 2

  • 2 slices country-style or levain bread, about 1/2-inch thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large handful sturdy greens, such as spinach, arugula, baby kale, or frisée
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup hot-smoked salmon salad
  • Chopped chives or dill for garnish

To make a tartine, lightly brush the bread with olive oil. Toast in the oven until lightly golden on both sides. Remove and cool slightly.

Place the greens in a bowl. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt. (The leaves should be lightly coated, not drenched.) Spread the greens on the bread. Spoon a layer of salmon salad over the greens. Garnish with additional dill or chives and a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Lynda studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.