The best dishes are either fantastically complicated or deceptively simple. Salmon tartare is a simple one.

Salmon tartare can be a sophisticated appetizer for dinner parties or a relatively simple romantic dinner for two. The key is to start with a nice piece of cold raw or smoked salmon and add a number of savory mix-ins.

I put a little lemon juice on the fish to keep the flavor bright. Other people mix the other ingredients into the fish directly, but I prefer to let people create their own mixes.

Salmon Tartare, the essentials :

  • Salmon, either filet or cold smoked lox as shown above – about 2 oz per person for a meal portion
  • About 1 hard-boiled egg per person, white and yolk separated and chopped
  • 2 scallions per person, dark green and white/light green separated and chopped
  • Capers
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice on the chopped fish, about the juice of 1/2 a lemon/person
  • A flaky sea salt

Instruction :

  1. Some people add olive oil directly to the salmon. I think this is gilding the lily since the fish is already filled with wonderful, flavorful, healthy fats.
  2. As for the rest of the mix-ins, Add anything you think might go with the salmon. Here’s our plate from last night.
    1) Lightly toasted crusty bread
    2) Capers
    3) Maldon salt or another flaky finishing salt
    4) Chopped roasted red pepper
    5) Lemon zest
    6) Olive tapenade
    7) Sun-dried tomatoes in oil
    8) Hard-boiled egg yolk
    9) Hard-boiled egg white
    10) The chopped dark green part of the scallion
    11) Chopped light green and white part of the scallion
    Not shown, but an excellent choice – creme fraiche or sour cream. Works like a binder to keep everything together on the toasts
  3. Halved grapes, pomegranate seeds, grainy mustard, a sugar/salt mix (like gravadlax), black pepper, minced sweet pickle, any of these things can be a mix-in. Be creative.
  4. Toast a number of slices of crusty bread or get some wafer crackers. Give each guest a small bowl to mix their tartare in, and a spoon to scoop the ingredients they want into their personal bowl. Chop everything up very very finely. Cut the salmon into 1/8″ pieces or smaller, then chop some more. Do the same with every ingredient. Add lemon juice to the salmon and mix, then pile the salmon in the middle of a large plate and surround it with small piles of mix-ins.
  5. Alternately, you can prepare individual plates for your guests, or to be really fancy, put the salmon on a single piece of toast ahead of time and serve to each guest on an individual plate in the center of mix-ins.
  6. Either way, it’s a healthy dish that can serve as an appetizer or meal.