When it comes to Christmas Dinner, I don’t think anyone would argue that tradition is at the heart of our menu planning. If, as a child, your Mum cooked Scotch Broth, Prawn Cocktail, Turkey and Trifle then I’m willing to bet that your kids eat exactly that! You will probably have fixed ideas about going out or staying at home, what time dinner should be served and when amongst all of celebrations, the crackers get pulled!
So, this month’s column may just leave you feeling a little nervous – but bear with me! I’m here to propose that you venture off of the well walked path into something new. Smoked Salmon. For a few years now it has graced the starter section of festive restaurant menus so it may not seem like that much of a revelation; but when it comes to planning your festive family feast it is certainly one of the more overlooked foods. And that, my friends, just doesn’t make sense!
Scottish Smoked Salmon is one of our country’s finest culinary exports and is as delicious is it is versatile. Traditionally we have enjoyed it cold smoked, thin translucent slices of pink flesh served with lemon, capers and brown bread to give one of the simplest and most enjoyable starters a person could ever hope to find. In more recent years, meaty hot smoked fillets have appeared to give us a perfect accompaniment for salads, quiches and more substantial snacks.
It is the simplicity of this wonderful year-round ingredient that has ensured its longevity and ability to out-stay even the most popular of food trends. In my mind, this is what makes it the perfect Christmas Day starter. Let’s consider the double whammy of benefits.
- There is no cooking. Simply place sliced salmon onto a plate with some lemon, capers, maybe a little sliced fennel, and serve with brown bread and plenty of butter. Or order an entire side and kick start your feast with a show-stopping centre piece!
- It is satisfying without being overly filling. Who wants to fill up on broth when you know the main attraction is normally a Man Vs Food battle to the couch? Far better a delicate, delicious dish that whets the appetite rather than starts the slow descent to nap time!
And with low calories, high protein and an abundance of omega-3 and 6, you’ll be perfectly entitled to go back for guilt-free second helpings. Which is more than can be said for Aunt Jeans Black Forest gateaux.
Our Favourite Recipes:
Merry Christmas everyone!
CHEFS TIP: If you’re tied to your traditional dinner starter, then why not start a new tradition with this quick and easy Smoked Salmon and Scrambled eggs Bloody Mary style breakfast dish. Make your eggs as normal, adding tomatoes, a dash of Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce just before the end. Pour onto toast and place the smoked salmon on the side with a wedge of lemon.