Nothing says Christmas like a side of smoked salmon. This year, try it on pancakes.

Christmas, for me, is incomplete without smoked salmon. It remains the most favourite first course for almost all, I believe: delicate, savoury, luxuriously textured and only as much –or as little – as one wishes.

In between, it may also be grazed upon as a surreptitious wafer-thin slice late afternoon, popped in the mouth when alone by the fridge, with only the interior light to guide you.

Obviously, you may serve as much or as little smoked salmon with the pancakes as you wish, but I do think that a few slices of gloriously rich smoked eel add a rare finesse to the assembly.

Without question, I would advise you towards Severn & Wye Smokery in Gloucestershire. As far as this most pernickety of cooks is concerned, there is no finer smokery in the land.

Smoked salmon and smoked eel with potato pancakes and soured cream and chives

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pancake batter

  • 500g potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 50ml milk
  • 45g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3tbspn double cream
  • Butter

For the topping

  • Small tub soured cream
  • A tablespoon chives
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Smoked-salmon slices
  • Smoked-eel slices
  • Lemons

Method

Steam the potatoes until tender to the poke of a small knife. While still hot, press through
a potato ricer into a bowl. Allow to cool a little, then whisk in the milk, flour, eggs, egg whites, cream and seasoning. Put to one side for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the soured cream, chives, a shake of cayenne pepper and a little salt.

Gently heat a little butter in a wide, non-stick frying pan. Using a dessert spoon, fry a little of the batter to form pancakes of no more than about 5cm–6cm (about 2in) diameter. Allow to settle for a couple of minutes, until a few tell-tale tiny bubbles appear on the surface. Flip over with a spatula and cook for a further minute. Slide onto a plate and keep warm in a low oven while you cook more.

Note: a few initial attempts may disappoint, but this is tradition with all pancakes.

To serve, arrange slices of salmon and eel on a serving platter with the pancakes, still warm. Offer the soured cream and chives, along with lemons to squeeze over, at table.