Sunday, October 26, 2014

Salmon Tartare with Rye Crackers and Fennel & Citrus Salad

Salmon Tartare & Fennel & Citrus Salad 1

I don't know how things are in your household, but in mine we live on a pretty tight budget.  When you have a passion for food and "luxury" ingredients, that can be a bit challenging at times.  It doesn't mean, I believe, that you need to go without, you just need to be a bit creative about the ways in which you use those things.  In many ways this goes right to the heart of my whole philosophy about food.

Case in point ... chicken.  We only eat free range, organic chicken in our house - not just for ethical reasons, but because it also tastes a whole lot better than your average battery farmed chicken.  A free range chook will however set you back about twice as much as a cage raised bird.  With a little planning, however, we can usually manage to get three to four meals out of a chicken, and a batch of soup out of the carcass, which works out pretty budget friendly in the end.

This salmon tartare is another great way of making a luxury ingredient go a long way.  A small salmon fillet, which would normally be a single serving as a main meal, becomes a sumptuous lunch for two, or even an appetiser for four.

It's Pot Luck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and we have the choice too cook with any one of our eleven IHCC chefs.  However, I'm still in the honeymoon phase of my relationship with our latest chef, Diana Henry, so I turned to Diana's book A Change of Appetite, where her Scandinavian inspired dish of Salmon Tartare with Pickled Cucumbers and Rye Crackers really caught my attention.

Salmon tartare is one of my favourite dishes, and I didn't make a great deal of changes to the recipe other than adding a slosh of vodka to the marinating salmon, because ... well ... just because, and leaving out the shallots as I didn't want anything to overwhelm the delicate flavour of the salmon.  A few snipped chives, had I had them, might have been nice.  In addition to the rye crackers, Diana serves this salmon tartare with a sweet and sour, pickled cucumber salad and dilled yoghurt.  I chose to make a refreshing fennel and citrus salad instead.

As far as the rye crackers go, I didn't make any changes to the recipe whatsoever, so I'm not going to reproduce the recipe in detail here for you - you'll just have to go get the book, and trust me when I tell you it is totally worth it.

These crackers are so easy to make, and so delicious, you will wonder why you've ever bought crackers in your life.  Not only that, whipping up a batch of these will run out to a fraction of the cost of buying crackers.

Rye flour, along with a little salt, sugar and baking powder are mixed with a little chilled butter until the mixture resembles damp sand, then mixed with milk to form a soft dough - using the food processor makes fast and easy work of this.

Break off golf ball sized chunks, roll in a light dusting of extra rye flour, and then roll out as thin as you possibly can into something vaguely resembling a circle.

Rye Crackers 1

Place crackers on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, prick all over with a fork, and bake in a hot oven for up to 10 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Rye Crackers 2

These crackers are a wonderful accompaniment to the salmon, in both flavour and texture, and I think next time a little sprinkling of fennel seeds and sea salt over the crackers before baking might be a nice touch to echo the flavours in the salad.  These crackers also make a great vehicle for a variety of cheeses and chutneys.  A batch of these in your store cupboard won't last long I can promise you.

What tips do you have for stretching the budget to accommodate luxury ingredients?

Salmon Tartare & Fennel & Citrus Salad 2

Salmon Tartare Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Diana Henry
from A Change of Appetite
Click here for the free recipe card

250g (8 oz) salmon, skin and bones removed
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
juice of 1x lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vodka
freshly ground black pepper
generous handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Cut salmon into tiny dice, about .5cm (1/4 inch) in size, and place in a small bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Mix together gently, and chill while you make the crackers and salad, or for up to two hours.  Before serving, taste and adjust any of the seasonings according to your palate.

Fennel & Citrus Salad Recipe

1x orange, peel and all white pith removed
1x grapefruit, peel and all white pith removed
(if you can get pink grapefruit so much the better)
1x lemon, peel and all white pith removed
1x lime, peel and all white pith removed
1x fennel bulb
generous handful of fennel fronds, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place a sieve over a medium sized bowl.  Hold the peeled orange over the sieve to catch any pips and, using a sharp knife, cut down between the membrane and segment of fruit on each side to separate the fruit entirely from the membrane, and let the fruit segments fall into the bowl.  Squeeze the membrane over the bowl, extracting as much juice from it as you can.  Repeat with the grapefruit, the lemon and the lime, in each case also squeezing all of the juice out of the membrane.

Remove the tough outer "leaves" from the fennel bulb.  Cut it into quarters lengthwise and slice the fennel as thinly as you possibly can - a mandoline is the ideal tool for this job if you have one.

Add the shaved fennel to the citrus segments, along with the fennel fronds.  Season generously with flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Chill until you are ready to serve.

If you would like to get to know Diana Henry a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links (who knows, you might even want to join the journey and cook along with us) ...

Diana Henry badge 1A

... or check out A Change of Appetite and Diana's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.


  1. Hi Sue,
    This is one beautiful dish. An elegant lunch to serve to friends! You are right about being on a budget for family meals. I do not cook salmon that often, as it is pretty expensive (salmon are all imported in my corner of the globe!), to feed a family of four. Stretching it out like you did in this dish makes perfect sense! It looks delicious and beautiful! And make such an impressive potluck dish!

  2. Hi Sue, such a gorgeous dish, love the way the crackers look. Sounds like we eat very much the same way, which is great as we are not eating huge helpings of meat instead we are enjoying more veggies.

  3. This is a stunning dish, Sue. I think you made the right call omitting the onion. I truly love onion, but it does have a tendency to overpower. I love that you added the fennel and orange salad, both for texture and color. It looks like a dream of a dish!

    I really struggle with my food budget. I try to buy quality meats, fish, and dairy and limit portions but that sometimes doesn't go over well. To be truthful I can't seem to get a good handle on it at all unless I'm able to catch a great sale and stock up.

  4. Just to answer your question to stretch the budget, I often serve vegetarian meals because organic chicken, beef or salmon of of high quality is very expensive. Your dish touches my Scandinavian palate. Did you know that Schleswig-Holstein was Danish until 1860?

  5. I love steak tartare and I love sushi, so it's no stretch for me to go straight for this salmon tartare. The rye crisps area perfect platform for the bite too! Well done, dearie!

  6. Salmon and rye is such a classic combination and this dish is a delicious way to stretch an expensive piece of protein. Love the accompanying salad!

  7. Sue, the tartare sounds delicious but the rye crackers have me intrigued and anxious to make them. I've always loved a commercial rye cracker we have here but I'll bet this homemade version would knock them off the shelf!

  8. wow this looks super duper delicious, Sue. I love particularly those homemade rye crackers.

  9. I just got my Change of Appetite book last week Sue and this is one of the recipes that immediately caught my eye too. I love salmon--I try to buy wild salmon on sale or in bulk to save a $, and keep it in the freezer to pull out a piece when I am craving it. I also love that we both made fennel and orange/citrus salads this week and they were paired with salmon. ;-)


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