To provide some inspiration for this year's Christmas menu, we've picked out our favourite ways to eat that extra special festive favourite- smoked salmon.
For some, smoked salmon is as vital a component of festive feasting as the mighty turkey or the traditional mince pie. It can be quite expensive and it's not something we eat every day, therefore it has a luxurious special feel. And at a time of year when we punch in an extra belt notch and throw normal dining rules out the window, this feeling is all the more alluring.
To provide some inspiration for this year's Christmas menu, we've picked out our favourite ways to eat smoked salmon.
While high-quality slices of smoked salmon are easily available from supermarkets and fishmongers, you can make a really similar cured variety at home. It's not as hard as it may seem and you don't need to own a smoke shack in the outer Hebrides to get an authentic finish.
You'll need the freshest salmon fillet you can buy, then the method is to cure (so strictly speaking it's not smoked) over two days in a brine. Don't be scared of the fact you don't cook the fish over heat- the salt water infuses the raw flesh and makes it edible.
Matt Tebbutt adds some Asian spices to his sherry and anise-tinged version, while our food editor Barney adds a splash of vibrant purple by marinating his salmon in beetroot. Gordon Ramsay takes a Scandinavian approach and cures his salmon with dill to make gravadlax. If you need a helping hand, watch our video guide to making gravadlax.
I'm puritanical about my Christmas Day breakfast, and always request smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, mainly because I know my dad will add huge lumps of butter. It's not really the most original of serving options, but it's guaranteed empty plates- who can resist mopping up the buttery, lemony, peppery eggs with a second helping of hot toast?
Smoked salmon & lemon scrambled eggs
If you want to go against the grain, serve smoked salmon for your Christmas breakfast but try something new. A kedgeree is normally made with smoked haddock, but also works with slices of salmon. If you'd rather ditch the carbs ahead of the feast that's to follow, try adding your fish to a thick tortilla-style omelette instead.
Smoked salmon kedgeree
Smoked salmon & mascarpone tortilla
Blitzing your smoked salmon into a creamy pâté is not only a swift way to jazz up festive snack time, but it also allows for use of thrifty fish trimmings. As unglamorous as they sound, they are a lot cheaper than traditional slices, and nobody will tell the difference once cut up really small.
Smoked salmon, dill & lemon pâté
As much as this beautiful fish deserves to take centre stage, it also works well dotted into side dishes. If you're serving up a warm buffet with home-cooked ham and seasonal tarts, a smoked salmon dauphinoise potato bake will impress your guests. Likewise, if you're putting on a cold spread, it works in a pasta salad.
Smoked salmon & celeriac dauphinoise
Creamy salmon & chive bows
There are infinite opportunities to use smoked salmon in the wonderful world of canapés. The classic option is to serve a slice of the fish on a pancake or blini, but try it out in homemade sushi, in tortilla rolls with cream cheese, or on toasted crostini too.
Garden leaves with smoked salmon & cheat's blinis
Smoked salmon & avocado sushi
Smoked salmon rotollos
Classic smoked salmon crostini
Potted fish is a vastly underrated starter - it's traditionally made with crab, shrimps or mackerel, but a mix of both smoked and fresh salmon works a treat. Mary Cadogan's version is a little like a pate in that the fish is flaked until fine and it's spreadable. Pour the melted butter and lemon over the salmon and leave to set until a bright yellow hard layer has formed over the top- divine!
Potted fresh & smoked salmon
There's no time like Christmas for a crispy quiche or tart, what with all the entertaining and indulgent snacking. Smoked salmon and egg match like mince pies and brandy butter, so after creating the safe filling base you can experiment with different flavours. Try dill, capers, cream and red onion.
Salmon, dill & potato tart
Smoked salmon, dill & onion tart
If you need an alternative starter or just something light but warming in between the intensive face-stuffing, try adding smoked salmon to a soup. Make something really comforting by adding your fish to a leek and potato base, or give it a lighter touch in a chowder, which often has a thinner broth-like consistency.
Creamy smoked salmon, leek & potato soup
There are seldom many leftovers in my house, but if there were some smoked salmon lying around, my favourite non-festive way to use it is in pasta. There are tons of ways to serve it, but typically it works well with lemon, crème frâiche & and with light herbs like basil or dill. You could also try it in place of bacon in a carbonara.
Smoked salmon spaghetti with chilli & lemon
Smoked salmon carbonara
Still haven't found what you're after? Take a look through our Christmas smoked salmon recipe collection, or share your ideas with us below.