Last week got away from me. I had grand plans to smoke my own salmon before a brunch date with the girls on Saturday but before I knew it, it was Friday and unfortunately good smoked salmon takes a little planning ahead. But we’ll save instructions for smoking salmon for another day because it’s so easy and you don’t even need a smoker.
The goal the last few weeks has been to use up the salmon we caught last year before my husband starts his charter fishing season. Once the boat’s in Lake Michigan, we’ll restock for next year but until then we’ve got a couple fillets that need to get cooked to clear up some freezer space. When my friend, Emily, offered to host a brunch I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to bring smoked salmon and toast.
Even though time got the best of me, I still had an insatiable craving for smoked salmon. Since I already told the girls what I planned on bringing, store bought salmon was going to have to do the trick. What I’m using is hot smoked salmon, which is different than cold smoked or cured salmon including your Nova, Lox, and Gravlax. Nova is brined and cold smoked at about 80 degrees so the salmon isn’t cooked, just cured from the brine and has a slight smokey-ness to it. Lox and Gravlax typically don’t spend anytime in a smoker and rely on curing and spices to add flavor. Hot smoked salmon gets brined then cooked thoroughly in a smoker and has a flakier texture and more distinct smokey taste.
In Michigan, hot smoking is typically the method of choice since salmon caught in any of the Great Lakes needs to be cooked through completely before it’s consumed. Whether smoked at home or store bought, smoked salmon dip has always had a place as an appetizer at parties and gatherings. Growing up, we enjoyed it mixed with cream cheese or mayo and spread on a cracker.
With this recipe, I’m shying away from the creamy base and opting for a vinegar based sauce. Sauce gribiche, to be exact. Still a little creamy thanks to a very finely chopped soft boiled egg, but with enough bite from the vinegar to brighten the dish and make it perfect on top of toast. I used this recipe for the sauce gribiche from Brooke at Chocolate and Marrow with a couple adaptations including the addition of a little more dill since it’s so good with salmon.
For the toast, I spread cream cheese on whole grain bread. I then mixed a little of the sauce gribiche with the salmon to incorporate the flavor throughout the flakey fish. The mixture then gets spooned on top of the cream cheese and topped with fresh red onion, capers, and a little more sauce. The red onion adds a perfect, fresh crunch to the toast and that mixed with the bright sauce, smokey fish, cream cheese, and chewy toast makes for a perfect bite.
Smoked Salmon Toast with Sauce Gribiche
For the Sauce Gribiche
Adapted from Chocolate and Marrow
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbsp of Capers, Patted Dry and Coarsely Chopped
- 5 Cornichons*, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp Fresh Dill, chopped
- 3/4 Cup Olive Oil or other mild tasting oil like canola
*Use mini gherkins if you can’t find Cornichons
Combine the red wine vinegar and shallots in a small bowl and let the shallots sit in the vinegar while you prepare the rest of the sauce. Fill a small pan with a couple inches of water (enough to cover the egg) and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Gently lower the egg in the water and cook for 4 minutes, being careful not to let the water come to a rolling boil. Fill a small bowl with ice and water and place the egg in the ice water to stop the cooking. Peal the egg and place in a bowl. Add the Dijon and begin to crush the egg with a wooden spoon until the egg is crushed and fully incorporated with the mustard. Add the vinegar and shallots to the bowl along with the salt, pepper, capers, cornichons, and dill and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, one teaspoon at a time, until the sauce emulsifies and becomes creamy. The consistency will be a little thinner than mayonnaise.
For the Smoked Salmon Toast
- 8 Oz. Hot Smoked Salmon
- 1/2 Cup Sauce Gribiche
- 8 Slices Whole Grain Bread
- 4 Oz. Cream Cheese
- Red Onion, sliced thin
- Additional Sauce Gribiche
Break the smoked salmon up into small flakes with your fingers, being careful to remove all the bones. Add the sauce to the salmon and mix. Preheat the oven to 400. Place your bread on a baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minutes. Remove and top with cream cheese, salmon, red onion, capers and additional sauce gribiche.