As the first course of my dad’s memorial dinner my mom and I selected the Salmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Creme Fraiche. This dish is instantly recognizable as coming from the French Laundry (the recipe is available in the French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller). The salmon topped coronets look like little ice cream cones. Very cute and very time consuming. In addition, it requires the purchase of the coronet molds; something I may or may not have used again. So Mom and I decided to improvise. We would use the French Laundry recipe to make the salmon tartare and the red onion creme fraiche. We kicked around a couple of ideas on what to use to replace the cornet ; one using puff pastry, one using the coronet recipe but in a free form mode, one using bread of some sort. We settled on a crouton as our base. Here’s the recipe for the appetizer course. And I apologize for the lack of pictures. I took pictures of every course but two days after I returned home my SD card went out and I never got them loaded onto my computer. Fortunately my sister took pictures of all but two of the courses, the appetizer and the profiteroles.
This recipe also calls for lemon oil. you will need 3/4 tsp plus some for the toasts. I went looking for lemon oil and found it at a cost of $15 for a small bottle. I am hesitant to spend that much on a ingredient that is barely used in the dish. Plus, it would take my mom a very long time to use up that lemon oil – it would go rancid before that happened. So I decided to make my own. I bought a large lemon and a bottle of very good grapeseed oil. Using the microplane grater, I grated the lemon into the grapeseed oil and let it sit, covered, at room temperature for 2 days. The resulting lemon oil was excellent and I saved alot of money.
Salmon Bites Chez Carnehl Serves 4
For the toasts:
- 12 slices from a very good quality baguette sliced no more than 1/4 inch thick
- lemon oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Brush one side of the bread slices with a bit of the lemon oil. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the slices are firm but not crunchy. Remove to a plate, cool briefly and cover until time to serve. The toasts can be made three or four hours ahead but not much more than that or they will dry out.
For the Salmon Tartare makes about 3/4 cup – enough for 12 toasts
- 4 oz salmon filet, skin and pin bones removed, finely minced. Note: I prefer a coho or sockeye salmon if you can get it. Otherwise wild caught salmon will be fine.
- 3/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 tsp lemon oil (see above)
- 1 1/2 tsp finely minced chives
- 1 1/2 tsp finely minced shallots
- white pepper to taste
- Mince the salmon and place in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and taste for seasoning. This recipe does not call for salt but you may need to add some to the tartare. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. As I was making so many courses, I did all the mise en place for this dish on Friday, mixing it together Saturday for use on Saturday evening.
Red Onion Creme Fraiche
- 1 tbl finely minced red onion
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- white pepper to taste
- Place the minced red onion in a small strainer and rinse under cold water for several seconds. This takes some of the bite out of the onion. Drain them on paper towels until dry. In a small metal bowl, whip the creme fraiche with a whisk for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Fold in the chopped onion and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
- Diced ripe tomatoes
- Place a small mound of diced ripe tomatoes in the center of each plate. Top the toasts with the salmon tartare and the red onion creme fraiche mixture. Lay chives cut to fit the toast along the top of the salmon and creme fraiche. Arrange the toasts, three to a plate, around the chopped tomato.
A great way to start a meal. My mom poured champagne with this course ( she had selected a different wine for each course.)
We all wished our dad/husband was there to enjoy the meal.