The ROI on this luscious appetizer is just incredible. It’s in that secret-weapon category of dish that’s dead easy to make and has an appeal that’s practically universal. Who doesn’t like smoked salmon and miniature pancakes? Who won’t be surprised by the mingling of fragrance and pungency in this gorgeously unctuous cream?
We’ve served this as a main course at brunch, as an opener for lobster dinner, and as canapés on New Year’s Eve. If you’re doing canapés, just make the pancakes smaller, about the size of a sand dollar. You can also decide to go double-decker instead of triple-decker, but there’s a drama to the three layers that really showcases the elegance and luxuriance of good smoked salmon.
[fbshare]Smoked salmon and mango-jalapeño cream on cornmeal blinis
Slightly adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook
24 paper-thin slices of smoked salmon, the oilier the better
Cilantro leaves for garnish
For the blinis
½ C medium-grind yellow cornmeal
½ C all-purpose flour
1 scant tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. honey
1 large egg, beaten
½ C plus 2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. melted butter
butter for frying
For the cream
1 C crème fraîche or sour cream
the finely diced flesh of a truly ripe mango
1 jalapeño pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and finely diced
2 tbsp. finely diced red onion
salt and pepper
NOTES: The blinis start drying out instantly, so make them right before serving, if you can. Also, don’t let the batter sit – the baking powder makes it rise, and you don’t want the blinis to be too spongy. You can replace the jalapeño with any other kind of pepper you like. Replacing the cilantro with a dab of caviar or fish roe takes this nicely over the top.
1. Combine the ingredients for the mango-jalapeño cream in a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and honey. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and melted butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.
3. Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over high heat, and melt a little butter in it. Working in batches, drop the batter by spoonfuls to make 3-inch pancakes. Cook until light brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. (They’re ready to flip when the little bubbles that form on the top start opening.)
4. Assemble three layers of blini-cream-salmon, with a final dab of cream on top, and garnish with cilantro.