A fresh and bright salmon tartare is a delicious way to start the new year


Serve salmon tartare on whole-grain cracker rounds or crostini.

Lynda Balslev/TasteFood

While “tartare” generally refers to finely chopped meat (often beef) that is served raw, this recipe is all about smoked salmon, which is brined and cured in salt before being smoked at a low temperature. Its finished texture is soft, supple and smooth, which makes for a luxurious winter canape. 

Salmon tartare is a perfect multitasking appetizer: It’s fresh, salty and bright with citrus. It’s also rich in protein, B vitamins and calcium, and it’s low-fat to boot. To serve, dress it up and serve on brioche toasts, or keep it more casual and spread on crostini. In this recipe, it’s dolloped on whole-grain cocktail rounds for a slightly heartier texture. It’s also wonderfully versatile: Assemble the tartare up to one day in advance and serve any leftovers on breakfast toast or spooned over greens for a light lunch.

When preparing the tartare, finely chop the salmon and onion in similar minced size. I prefer to do this by hand with a knife rather than use a food processor, which can create a pasty texture if overprocessed. Taste as you go, and don’t skimp on the herbs. Each mouthful should be fresh, juicy and bright.

Smoked Salmon Tartare Canapes

Yield: Makes about 1 1/4 cups or 10 to 12 canapes


10 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill 
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Whole-grain cocktail rounds
Freshly ground black pepper
Dill sprigs for garnish 
Lemon wedges and slices for garnish


1. Finely dice the smoked salmon and transfer to a bowl. Fold in the onion, yogurt and lemon juice. Add the dill and chives and gently stir to combine; feel free to add more herbs to your taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

2. To serve, mound heaping tablespoons of the tartare on whole-grain cocktail rounds (or crostini or mini brioche toasts). Generously season with freshly ground black pepper. Serve garnished with additional dill and lemon, if desired.

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories. More recipes can be found atchicago.suntimes.com/taste.

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