Four years. That’s how long it’s taken me to appreciate the taste of salmon again. For years prior, salmon adorned our fall and winter table at least 3 times a week in all forms: caviar, quiches, frittatas, curries, grilled foil packets, grilled whole, grilled half, on bagels, in sandwiches, and as a snack. It was the good salmon, too. The oily, fragrant, bright-red, extra-salmony salmon from the Copper River, which we caught ourselves. Their oily, fragrant, extra-salmoniness is what turned the salmon-craving part of my brain off after a couple years of eating it so often. I was worried it was out of commission for good.
Much to my delight, I started craving it again recently. In all these phases, hot smoked salmon has been my favorite. A short aside, I don’t care for lox (cold smoked) because of the texture. It tastes like fishy paste to me, which often gets lost when paired with other ingredients. The dreadful texture never gets lost to my gag reflex. I’ve tried to like it. Hell, I’ve pretended to like it, but call me blasphemous. I don’t like it.
Hot-smoked salmon, however, is my jam. It’s meaty and substantial and doesn’t get lost paired with other ingredients. It stands out.
It’s part of my food philosophy that meat stand out because when meat stands out as one flavor component of a complex dish, we tend to use and consume less of it. By consuming less meat, I can afford happy meat. By affording happy meat, I’m supporting my local agrarian economy. By buying local, I’m not supporting factory farms or fish farms.
Back to hot-smoked salmon: you can find it in most grocery stores or specialty seafood shops if you’re lucky enough to live close to an ocean. If you have a smoker or kettle grill, consider smoking some yourself!
I had some hanging around in my fridge and bowls of eggs that needed to be used, so I decided to pair the two. By making smoked salmon deviled eggs. The creamy, yolky center is whipped with chopped capers, a little crème fraiche, some finely chopped onion, and a little mayonnaise. Each filled egg is then topped with salmon, a quick-pickled red onion, and chives. These are a perfect addition to your brunch menu.
The Cast: Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
Meaty, smoky salmon
Creamy whipped egg yolks
Sharp, slightly sweet, pickled red onion
Fresh chopped chives
- 1 dozen eggs, boiled and peeled
- 3 Tbsp. (heaping) mayonnaise, preferably Duke's
- 2 Tbsp Creme Fraiche
- 2 Tbsp. capers, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. pickled onions, finely chopped (see recipe in the instructions or click on the link above)
- 1 tsp. caper brine
- 8 oz. hot smoked salmon, broken into small, bite-sized pieces
- Pickled red onion and chives to garnish
- Cut the boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Place egg white cups onto a plate for later.
- Add mayonnaise, creme fraiche, capers, chopped pickled onion, and brine to the bowl. With a whisk, whip the ingredients together until everything is well combined and a creamy consistency.
- Fill a piping bag or a zip lock bag with the corner cut off (see video below) with the yolk mixture. Fill each of the egg cups with filling.
- Top each with a bite-sized piece of smoked salmon, pickled onion, and chives.
- To quick pickle your red onion:
- Boil 3 cups of water. Cut a red onion in ¼ inch slices and place in a sieve over an empty pot in the sink. To a quart sized mason jar, add ¾ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and 1 tsp. whole mustard seed (or whole-grain brown prepared mustard if that's all you have). Stir everything until sugar and salt is dissolved.
- Pour boiling water over onions to par-blanch them. Add onions to jar. If vinegar mixture does not cover the onions, add just enough drained boiling water to cover. Discard the rest of the water.
- Let sit for at least 30 minutes. They should stay good for a couple weeks.