It wouldn't be Christmas without some smoked salmon and it's worth paying for the best, says Simon Hopkinson. But what should you do with the trimmings?

Smoked salmon pilaf  (aka ‘a dry kedgeree’)
Serves 2, generously

For the making of a little fishy broth

  • 200ml white wine
  • 400ml water
  • The green tops of a bunch of spring onions, chopped (save a little for thinly slicing thinly over the finished dish)
  • The stalks of a small bunch of dill, chopped (save the leaves for making the pilaf below)
  • 3 thick slices fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of both salt and flaked red chilli
  • About 120g smoked salmon ‘off-cuts’ (available from most super-markets, but weights may vary)

For the making of the pilaf itself

  • 40g butter
  • The white parts of a bunch of trimmed spring onions, finely chopped (see above)
  • 250g basmati rice (I always use the Tilda brand and never wash it)
  • Half a teaspoon curry powder
  • 400ml stock (see above)
  • Generous pinch saffron stamens
  • 100g smoked salmon, cut into small slivers
  • The fronds of a small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, grated
  • Thinly sliced spring onion tops, to garnish (see broth ingredients)

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4.To make the broth, simply put all the ingredients into a stainless-steel or enamelled pan and simmer together for 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve and put the broth to one side. Discard the exhausted solids.

For the pilaf, melt the butter in a solid-bottomed, lidded cooking pot and add the spring onions. Allow to sizzle gently for a moment or two, then tip in the rice and curry powder. Quietly stir around until the grains are well coated with the spicy butter, then pour in the fishy broth and add the saffron and a touch of seasoning.

Bring up to a simmer, then stir in the smoked-salmon slivers. Put on the lid, slide into the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, then leave to stand for five minutes without removing the lid; this is important, allowing the rice to finish cooking.

Take off the lid, fluff up the pilaf with two forks, then cover the pot with a tea towel and clamp on the lid once more. Leave for a further five minutes so that excess steam may be absorbed. Remove the lid and towel, stir the pilaf briskly and pile onto a hot serving dish. Lavishly garnish with the chopped dill, grated egg and, finally, the thinly sliced green spring-onion tops. Serve without delay; rice dishes cool quickly.

 

Omelette ‘pancake’ with smoked salmon and crème fraîche (serves 4)

For the omelette ‘pancakes’

  • 4 large eggs
  • Very little salt
  • 1tbspn finely chopped chives
  • 2tbspn double cream
  • Butter
  • 8dspn crème fraîche
  • 8 wafer-thin slices best smoked salmon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To make the omelette ‘pancakes’, beat together the eggs with salt, chives and cream. Melt a tiny amount of butter in a small frying pan (non-stick, for ease) over a moderate heat, add two tablespoons of the egg mixture and gently swirl it around the pan in one thin layer. Allow it to set for several seconds, deftly flip it over, count to five and then slide it onto sheets of kitchen paper. Continue in this fashion until you have eight omelettes, then set aside.

To assemble, spread each one with a spoonful of crème fraîche, lay two thin slices of smoked salmon over them and then snugly roll them up; not too tight, but snug is definitely the word here.

Either leave them as is, for a generous first course garnished with a lightly dressed salad such as watercress or lamb’s lettuce (no rocket!) or slice into rounds and offer up on buttered brown bread as a rather nice, old-fashioned nibble, with drinks.

 

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