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Tartare of Marinated Wild Salmon with Cucumber Salad

Back in 1998 I was working for Raymond Blanc when he opened his le petit Blanc brasserie in Cheltenham. One of the first starters, and one of the most popular, was this dish. I found it both novel in its approach and very tasty as a starter - a refreshing light dish.

I lost the recipe and it is only recently that I rediscovered it on Monsieur Blanc's web site - as I worked hard for him back in those days he hopefully will not mind me reproducing it here to share with you.


450 g (1 lb) wild salmon fillet
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
zest of 1/8 lemon, finely sliced
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons soured cream
lemon juice
salt and freshly ground white pepper

Cucumber salad:
1/2 medium cucumber
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons non-scented oil

1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons soured cream
1 tablespoon caviar, salmon eggs or lumpfish roe, chilled
a small bunch of fresh dill


Planning Ahead:

Prepare the salmon at least 12 hours (even 2 - 3 days) in advance, but do not leave in the marinade for more than 12 hours. After this time, wash and dry the fish and keep refrigerated, wrapped in clingfilm.

The cucumber salad can be prepared 2 or 3 hours in advance. The garnish can be prepared and the dish dressed 1 hour in advance - keep in a cool place.

Marinating the Salmon:
(20 minutes, plus 1 hour resting and 12 hours marinating)

  • Remove the skin and gently tweeze out any stray bones.
  • Place the salmon on a piece of clingfilm large enough to enclose it completely.
  • In a bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon salt, the sugar, sliced lemon zest and dill and gently rub the mixture into both sides of the salmon.
  • Seal the clingfilm like a parcel and place in the bottom of the fridge for 12 hours.
  • At least 30 minutes before serving, unwrap the salmon, rinse under cold running water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Cut the salmon into 3 mm / 1/8 in cubes and place in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the mustard, soured cream, lemon juice and 4 turns of pepper, then mix in the salmon cubes.
  • Correct the seasoning and leave in a cool place for 1 hour. Meanwhile make the cucumber salad.

Cucumber salad:
(5 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting)

  • Peel the cucumber, halve lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.
  • Slice finely (I use potato peeler), place in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes to remove the indigestible acids.
  • Rinse under cold running water, pat dry and place in a small bowl.
  • Add the wine vinegar, oil and 2 turns of pepper and mix thoroughly.

The garnish:
(5 minutes)

  • Remove the skin and pith of the lemon and cut out the segments, slicing them into wafer-thin triangles.
  • Put the dill in cold water to prevent wilting and cut off the tiny fronds.

(20 minutes)

  • Have ready 8 small white plates and a pastry cutter.
  • Place the pastry cutter in the centre of a plate and fill it nine-tenths full with salmon.
  • Press down gently with the back of a teaspoon.
  • Top with a teaspoon of soured cream and smooth over with a metal spatula.
  • Carefully lift off the pastry cutter.
  • Surround the salmon with overlapping slivers of cucumber and arrange a circle of lemon triangles on the top; arrange a little mound of caviar in the centre.
  • Finally arrange the fronds of dill around the edge like a royal garland - highly appropriate!

Chef's Notes:

Use only wild or the best farmed salmon for this dish. Do not cut up the marinated salmon too finely, or it will be like eating mince; too large and it will look unattractive. Serve the tartares with brioche or hot toast, but prepare the toast at the last moment, or it will be horribly soggy. Remember British Rail!

Serves 8

Bon appetit . . .
Raymond Blanc