The other day I had friends over for dinner and decided to follow what I called a “fin-feather-fur” menu. I would have a fish course (fin) for the amuse bouche, chicken matzo ball soup for the (feather) appetizer course and bacon-wrapped venison tenderloin for the (fur) main course. I needed the first two courses to set the timing right for finishing the venison tenderloin to medium-rare.
I wasn’t sure what to serve for the “fin” course as I needed something that could be already set out on small dishes as our guests first sat down. I decided that a smoked fish would be perfect. Smoked salmon is very common whether for breakfast or as an appetizer but smoked trout is lesser known. Smoked trout would work perfectly for my “fin” course. The umami-rich salty flavor of smoked trout is great for whetting the appetite. To balance that flavor, I made some quick pickled onions which added a colorful topping.
After the fact I realized that this appetizer would also make an easy light lunch or the components could be taken on a picnic and easy assembled on-site. My recipe for pickled onions makes more than you need for the smoked trout recipe but they keep well in the fridge and are delicious to add to sandwiches or salads.
SMOKED TROUT APPETIZER
Pumpernickel bread, crusts removed
Picked onions (recipe below)
Sprig of fresh dill for garnish
Make the pickled onions at least an hour ahead of time to allow enough time for them to chill.
For each serving, spread some Boursin cheese on a slice of pumpernickel bread. Top each full slice with about ¼ cup of crumbled smoked trout.
Place some pickled onions on top and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill.
Quick – easy – and delicious!
1 cup water
1/4 cup Kosher salt or sea salt
1 red beet, thinly sliced (or ¼ cup beet juice)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
Heat the water to boiling then add the salt and stir to dissolve. If you are using a whole beet to color the pickled onions, simmer the beet slices in the water for about 5 minutes until the water becomes a vibrant red. Strain out the beet and discard (or enjoy as a quick snack). If you are using beet juice, simply add the juice to the water after the salt has dissolved.
Add the sliced onions to the water and simmer for a couple of minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the vinegar and mix well to combine.
Place the onions and brine in a mason jar. Cover the jar, shake well and place in the fridge to chill at least an hour.