Scandi smoked fish on crackers
This is my go-to Christmas lunch appetizer and something I make all the time when friends are coming over and I want something they can eat as they stand around the kitchen island drinking while I cook.
It uses my favourite food item from Ikea – the giant knackebrod as a base. Ikea sell these giant rye crackers in the food shop just after the cash registers (they are in blue paper, around the size of a steering wheel). They last for ages in the cupboard and are a really impactful, easy way to create a snack or starter. If you can’t face a trip to Ikea, just buy any rye crackers to use as a base.
My boys love smoked fish so I make this for a weekend lunch or quick dinner alongside soup all the time. I think the flavour is less fishy so it appeals to people who wouldn’t normally like fish. Plus the cream cheese tempers the flavour further.
Smoked salmon, mackerel and trout can be frozen so I always stock up when they’re on offer. Just pull them from the freezer and leave them in the fridge overnight or on the kitchen counter for a few hours before using. If you are catering for vegetarians, you could use strips of roasted red pepper or roasted butternut squash chunks to top the cream cheese.
To make this Scandi smoked fish ring:
1. Spread the cracker with cream cheese, mixed with the zest of a lemon, plenty of black pepper and capers – I use 1 pack of cream cheese mixed with 4 tablespoons drained nonpareille capers for 2 crackers.
2. Scatter torn up strips of the smoked salmon, mackerel or trout on top of the cream cheese. I always take the skin off smoked mackerel before using it for this.
3. Use a Microplane to zest another lemon all over the top of the cracker before cutting the lemon into wedges for people to squeeze on themselves. If you like dill, scatter some of that over the top too, or use a cheap tub of cress, snipped with scissors. I scattered extra chopped cornichons over as well as some pink pickled onions. You can also use a Microplane to grate fresh horseradish (I buy one and keep it in the freezer to use from frozen) over the top. These toppings give pops of flavour, crunch and texture as well as colour. The acidity from the lemon and pickles is needed to balance out the smoky fattiness of the fish.
4. Cut the finished cracker into wedges to serve. You’ll need a big sharp knife to cut through the cracker in a single movement to avoid cracking it. Serve immediately. Any leftover fish and seasoned cream cheese can be mashed together to use as pate and will keep in the fridge for 4 days.
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