Christmas Canapé – Beetroot Cured Salmon

How to impress your guests at Christmas, the easy way.

The recipe below is for a jolly nice starter at any time, and is especially good with some home made soda bread. However, adjust the quantities and reduce by about 25% and you can use the salmon as an exciting Christmas Canapé. We serve it in tiny basil tartlets, but that is way too much work at a busy time, so for the home cook you can use ready made oatcakes as suggested below. Other canapé bases could be crostini, little tartlets or blinis. The colour is a beautiful deep, deep pink and looks very glamorous.


Pick up a nice piece of salmon, with skin on and check for tiny bones. This quantity is to serve as a starter, but I also use small bits with a dill creme fraiche in tiny oatcake biscuits as a canape – especially good at Christmas.

Serves 8-10

  • a side of salmon boned, about 800g
  • demerara sugar 100g
coarse sea salt 175g
black peppercorns 10g
vodka 4 tbsp
dill a large bunch, about 30g
 lemons 2 
finely grated
  • orange zest 2 tbsp
raw beetroot 600g

Check the salmon for any remaining bones, keeping an eye open for the tiny, almost invisible pin bones. These can be removed with tweezers. Lay the salmon skin-side down on a stainless steel enamel tin or glass dish. If the fish is too long, cut it in half.

Put the demerara sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Roughly grind the peppercorns and add the sugar and the vodka. Roughly chop the dill and its stems, and add to the marinade. Finely grate the lemon zest and add to the sugar mixture with the grated orange zest. Peel and grate the beetroots, then stir into the other ingredients.

Spread the mixture over the fish and rub in well with your hands. Wrap a piece of clingfilm over the fish and place a heavy weight on top. (A small chopping board with a few cans on top will work.) Refrigerate for between 48 hours and four days.

Pour off and discard any liquid that has seeped from the marinade. Remove the cling film and scrape away the marinade.

Slice the fish thinly, as you would smoked salmon. Arrange on pretty plates with some lemon dressed rocket leaves.

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