Happy New Year! Eat thoughtfully, cook and live joyfully! This was our festive but simple New Year’s Day lunch: home-smoked wild Sockeye Salmon with a roasted beet-celery salad on top of a creamy hummus. It looks like a lengthy recipe, but in fact it consists of a couple of small make-ahead recipes, so no stress at the very last moment here. Serve with a glass of champagne or good white wine and consider yourself a lucky person.
I always smoke my salmon way shorter than most recipes indicate. This way the smoky flavor is not too overpowering and the flesh stays moist and juicy. You do need a smoker, though. I have a little stovetop smoker, which works perfectly well. You also need good salmon, obviously. I do not like farmed salmon, not even organic farmed salmon. Believe me, the taste of farmed salmon is nothing compared to the taste of wild salmon.
Action Time: 55 minutes, plus 10-15 minutes smoking time, 50-60 minutes oven time and resting
for the salmon:
500 g / 1.2 lb wild Sockeye Salmon
1-2 tbsp dark brown sugar
4 tbsp sea salt flakes (like Maldon Sea Salt)
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp wood chips for smoking (we like to use alder)
for the hummus:
1 can chick peas (400 g / 15.5 oz)
2 tbsp tahini paste
1 garlic clove, peeled
75 ml / 2.5 fl oz (1/3 cup) mild olive oil
juice and grated zest of 1/2 lemon
a pinch of cayenne
for the beet salad:
about 600 g / 1.5 lb raw red beets
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp walnut oil
for the celery salad:
3-4 celery stalks with green leaves
1 tbsp walnut oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
small hand of roasted walnuts or pecans
Extra: stovetop smoker, paper towel, aluminum foil, small roasting tin or ovenproof dish, food processor, vegetable peeler
1. Rub the salmon with the sugar, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cover and let sit in the fridge for about 1 hour. Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Sprinkle the wood chips over the center of the bottom of the smoker. Put the drip pan (the loose bottom) in place. I always line the drip pan with a single layer of aluminum foil, this cuts cleanup time in half. Arrange the salmon in the center of the greased rack. Close the lid about two-thirds of the way and center the smoker over a burner. Turn the heat to medium. When you see the first signs of smoking rising from under the drip pan, close the lid securely and smoke depending on the thickness of the fish for 10-15 minutes. The flesh should be flaky and still juicy. Remember you also eat your sushi with raw salmon, so there is nothing wrong with slightly undercooking the salmon. Serve the salmon at room temperature.
3. Meanwhile roast the beets (or do it before you smoke the salmon). Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 200 C. Wash and dry the beets and rub them with some olive oil and fine sea salt. Put them in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish and close tightly with aluminum foil. Roast the beets, depending on size, for 50-60 minutes. The beets are done when a fork or skewer slides easily into the middle of the beet. Remove from the oven and let cool a little. Remove the skin and cut the beets into small cubes. In a bowl, mix the beets with the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Taste and add some more vinegar if you like.
4. Make the hummus. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth and soft hummus. Add 2-3 tbsp of cold water to make an even softer hummus. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and add some extra lemon juice if you like.
5. Make the celery salad. Use a vegetable peeler and peel off the strings of the celery stalks. Cut the stalks into thin matchsticks. Right before serving mix in the walnut oil, lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, walnuts or pecans, salt and pepper.
6. Smear the hummus generously onto plates. Arrange the roasted beet salad and celery salad on top. Garnish with celery leaves, drip some olive oil over the hummus, and serve with the smoked salmon.