We all have foods we’ve avoided since childhood. Whether it’s a texture, a flavor or a dreaded weeknight dinner that was overserved to you growing up, these are ingredients that never quite make it into your adult repertoire. However, every now and then there is a food that we despised growing up only to realize we absolutely love it as an adult. For me that food is smoked salmon.
I remember trying smoked salmon as a teenager and being horrified that this was a sought-after and beloved flavor, let alone texture. That distain followed me until I was well into my 20s, when I begrudgingly tried it again as the only option at a brunch I was attending. This couldn’t be the same thing I had tried previously, could it? This was delightful. Salty and somehow sweet as well, with a smooth texture – a perfect accompaniment to the bagel and schmear on which it was served. From that moment on, I was a smoked salmon convert.
With this newfound ingredient to love, I educated myself on the varieties we have at our fingertips, and the results surprised me: Lox and smoked salmon are not the same thing. Many an uneducated salmon lover has used these terms interchangeably: Lox is salt-cured, while smoked salmon is cured, then smoked. Beyond that, there is hot and cold smoked salmon. The former is smoked at 150 degrees and has a flaky texture akin to classically cooked salmon, with a bold smoky flavor. Cold smoked salmon (which is likely what you have been picturing while reading this) is smoked at a cool 70-85 degrees with a buttery, silky, sliceable texture and very little smoky flavor. Though lox and cold smoked salmon have similar texture, lox is significantly saltier.
This enchanting recipe for smoked salmon flatbread uses cold smoked salmon, though you could use lox if you have a favorite – just be aware of the extra saltiness. While the flatbread itself can be made in advance, I recommend assembling this right before you serve it, as it does not save well. Once assembled, this can please a crowd as a fun appetizer or delight as a more intimate main course with a glass of crisp white wine, such as sauvignon blanc.
Smoked Salmon Flatbread
For the flatbread
¾ cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¼ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon white pepper
¾ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 Tablespoons olive oil plus extra for cooking
Combine water, sugar and yeast and set aside for 10 minutes until foamy. Combine flour, salt, oregano and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together yogurt, oil and yeast mixture. Add flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine.
Turn on to a floured surface and knead for 6 minutes, using flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Place dough balls onto a floured surface, cover with a dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
Place a large skillet over medium heat.
Working one ball at a time, use a rolling pin to flatten into a 9-inch circle and brush with olive oil.
Place in the hot pan, oiled side down, and cook for 1-2 minutes until covered in bubbles. Brush exposed side with oil and flip. Cook for 1 more minute until the bottom is browning.
Remove from the pan and cover with a dish towel (this keeps the bread soft).
Repeat with remaining dough balls.
These can be made 2-3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container or resealable bag on the counter. When you are ready to assemble, warm the flatbreads in the oven or on a skillet.
8 ounces smoked salmon, room temperature, thinly sliced
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon (you will use the juice as well so don’t discard after you zest)
1 clove garlic, crushed or extremely finely minced
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¾ cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 English cucumber
1 bunch fresh dill
1 bunch fresh chives
1 jar capers, drained
6 rounds of flatbread
Beat together cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon zest and garlic. Set aside.
Combine the onion, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl, microwave for 10 seconds, set aside.
Thinly slice the cucumber, radish and onion. The thinner the better.
Roughly chop the dill fronds, discard the stems.
Slice the chives.
Spread about ¼ cup of the cream cheese mixture on a warm flatbread.
Layer on your sliced veggies and a bit of dill. Add about 2 ounces salmon. Top with pickled onion, additional dill and sliced chives. Finish off with capers.
Give a squeeze of lemon juice and serve immediately.