Smoked Salmon Tartare adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook
December and January were extremely busy months. Between trying to spend as much time with my parents who were here on holiday, trying to finish work commitments and catching up with friends for the holidays, I still don’t know how I managed to get out a number of posts as well! Then I spent last week away for work in Hong Kong and it was the perfect opportunity as well to meet up with the Blog Monster and my sisters and my Aunt for some long over due bonding. I can’t remember the last time all the “girls” in the family went away together. On the weekend we arrived for instance, we started at 10 am when the stores were just opening, spent most of the day in the malls around Central and Kowloon. We’d break two or three times during the day for meals and gorged on roast goose at Yung Kee and dim sum at the Metropol restaurant. At the end of our trip we were such familiar faces at Yung Kee that when I went there on my last day to meet the Blog Monster, I thought they had not yet arrived so I asked for a table for four and the lady at the reception area told me “ah, your family is already seated upstairs!”
At night we’d have dinner, usually at a Chinese restaurant and then hit the night markets and come home close to midnight. Both The Geisha and The Blog Monster had to put band aids to protect their feet from all the blisters that were forming from all the walking. My arms were so sore from carrying so many bags that someone thought I had broken out in hives (I said it wasn’t hives, it was just the marks the shopping bags had made on my arms!).
As usual, the Blog Monster was hilarious as she tried to haggle with the shop keepers at the night markets.
“How much for the chinese tea pot?” she asked.
“120” the shop keeper replied.
I thought, “A bargain!” and was ready to pull out my wallet.
“120? Ahhh tooo expensive! I’ll pay you 50 for it!” The Blog Monster said.
And back and forth went the Blog Monster and the Shop Keeper for at least 10 minutes.
“She’ll never get away with it!” I thought to myself.
But somehow, she managed to get me the tea pot for 50 HKD plus a ceramic brush for free!
So you can imagine, coming home on Saturday was pretty strange. After more than two months of a constant stream of guests, parties and get togethers, I found myself… alone.
While I do love the companionship of my husband, family and friends, I sometimes relish the thought of having my own quiet time. Where there is no need to align my schedule to anyone else’s. There is no need to worry that what I make for dinner will not be to everyone’s liking. No need to share the box of my favourite mint chocolates with anyone else.
My husband had gone on a business trip to the US the same time I left and is due back mid this week. So for now, it’s just me and of course the dogs, Baci and Bizou. Times like this reminds me of the period in my life when my husband was studying his MBA in New York. I was in the Philippines living with my parents but they would be away for months at a time visiting my family in Australia. So very often I would find myself preparing dinner for one – myself. One of the dinners I used to often have was a smoked salmon sandwich. On a toasted baguette, with cream cheese, capers, red onions and some rocket – a simple and satisfying meal.
Of course dinner for one doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, one of the things I enjoy most is taking the time prepare a beautiful meal. For once there is no one in the background saying “hurry up and stop trying to style our dinner, we’re hungry!” In fact, when I have the time, the ritual of preparing the meal is as enjoyable as eating it!
This Smoked Salmon “Tartare” was adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Cookbook. As you can see, it’s not really a tartare (as I did not chop the salmon finely as a tartare should be done) but it has all the makings otherwise. The recipe below is for one serving (of course!) but since this makes a very pretty starter, feel free to increase quantities if you are making it for guests.
- 50 grams smoked salmon
- 1 hard boiled egg, white and yolk separated and finely chopped
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives, finely chopped
- a few capers, rinsed, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sour cream (or creme fraiche which is what is used in the Bouchon cookbook)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Lay the salmon on a large plate. Use a sharp knife to cut the salmon into a circular shape, leaving at least 3 cm between the salmon and the rim of the plate.
- In a little bowl, mix the shallots and the chives together, add some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Now lay the chopped egg yolks around the smoked salmon.
- Next lay half of the shallot and chive mix after the yolks.
- Add the egg whites around the shallot and chive mix and then finally another layer of the shallot and chive mix after the egg whites.
- Finally, lay a quenelle of sour cream over the smoked salmon.