This is a mouthful

I finally came up with a smoked salmon pizza that makes sense.  I love the idea but have been stuck on a Nova salmon approach for so long, I missed the obvious.

I had to get beyond the New York Nova style salmon,  the cold smoked process that we think of with bagels and lox. In my mind, this equated to adding salmon after baking the pizza to preserve its delicate smoked essence.

Well, of course. Here in the Pacific Northwest, hot smoked salmon is king. That smoking process delivers a bolder, firmer, deeply smoked salmon that’s unflinchingly good, whether hot or cold.

Once out of that box, a concept finally emerged,  a hot smoked salmon pizza with a buckwheat crust topped with toasted onion rings.

Smoked Salmon Pizza, Buckwheat Crust, Toasted Onion Rings

I’d retain some elements associated with traditional Nova, but for this pizza I’d veer off with a buckwheat infused crust.  I’d keep it simple with a light white sauce and bites of the hot smoked salmon graced with toasted sweet onion rings, capers, dill and rosemary.

There’s nothing complicated with any of these moving parts, but they do require a little advance work.

The buckwheat crust brings a toasted nuttiness which is lovely with the salmon.  I often use buckwheat in baking as an alternative to whole wheat and stock a small amount of the flour purchased in bulk for occasional use.

Buckwheat Pizza Dough

The crust is the usual pizza dough here, substituting ½ cup buckwheat flour for ½ cup AP, if no buckwheat go with wheat flour if you have it.  Since the dough only needs a few minutes to rise and pats out like a dream, I tend to continue on and prebake 2 medium crusts (or 1 large) because they freeze so well. This way, finishing a pizza can be done at my own speed rather than futzing with dough at the last minute.

For the onion, I opt for sliced sweet onion which is not caramelized in the true sense. Rather, the rings are kept as intact slices and laid onto a flat skillet with a light coating of butter and evoo. The slices are left to toast undisturbed, then flipped over and browned a little longer for a total of 10-12 minutes.

Toasted Onion Rings

The sauce is essentially a light Mornay enriched with a little Asiago cheese and a dollop of thick yogurt. It’s flour base provides stability for the yogurt— which holds beautifully and supplies a creamy bright edge rather than richness.

The pizza makes a superb dinner with salad. As you would expect, it is delish the next day for breakfast.

Smoked Salmon Pizza with Buckwheat Crust & Toasted Onion Rings

Ingredients
1-2 tsp evoo for pan
1 recipe Quick & Easy Pizza Dough
½ cup buckwheat flour (or whole wheat flour)
5 oz hot smoked salmon
Toasted Onion Rings
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, slices
Cheese Sauce
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp AP flour
¼ tsp each salt, ⅛ tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp Asiago or Parmesan cheese
½ cup liquid: stock, water, etc.
½ cup milk
⅓ cup thick yogurt
Finish
½ cup Asiago or Parmesan, grated
¼ tsp or more coarse ground pepper
2 tsp capers, drain
2 tsp mixed fresh herbs: rosemary and dill

Directions

  1. Prepare dough, substitute ½ cup AP Flour with ½ buckwheat flour. Let rise 10-20 minutes. For medium pizza, use ½ recipe. For large pizza, use entire recipe.
  2. To toast onion, heat butter and olive oil over medium/low heat in wide skillet or on a griddle. Lay sliced rounds of onion into pan and toast until golden; carefully turn and toast second side, for a total of 10-15 minutes. Remove rings, cool on plate and set aside.
  3. For Cheese Sauce, in small saucepan heat butter and oil over medium/low heat. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add the cheese to melt and then stir in ½ cup liquid to dissolve flour, then add the milk, stirring to create a sauce. Stir in the yogurt, combine and heat briefly. Adjust seasoning and set aside.
  4. Shape ½ the dough with oiled hands onto oiled 9-10” pizza pan or pat out all for 1 large crust. It can be prebaked at this point, see dough recipe.
  5. Spread the dough with Cheese Sauce.
  6. Divide the salmon into chunks and arrange evenly oven the sauce. Drape with onion rings.
  7. Sprinkle with ground pepper, grated cheese, capers and herbs.
  8. Bake 425-450°F until bubbly and top begins to color, 18-25 minutes. Makes 1 medium/large pizza

‘Tis the Season: Salmon Potato Latkes

Sometimes the closer we are to something, the less we appreciate it.  Such was the case between salmon and me; I had to leave the Pacific Northwest, where it is abundant, before I could realize how good I really had it.

Salmon are unique in that they live part of their lives in the ocean and then migrate into fresh water and head upriver toward home, where they breed. In spite of crashing about on rocks and getting badly banged up, they have a mission that keeps them going.

Kettle Falls postcard, courtesy nwcouncil.org
Kettle Falls postcard, courtesy nwcouncil.org

Fresh caught Atlantic salmon is tasty and farm raised works in a pinch, but when it comes to salmon, Dorothy, there’s no place like home.

In the Pacific Northwest, Indian tribes have long cherished sacred gathering spaces where they could spear and net great salmon that thrashed and leaped over rocks and falls on their way upstream.

Now, dams and ladders have altered the natural landscape and forever changed these ancient rites and traditions.

Since it is all about celebrating salmon’s fresh and briny taste, the simpler the preparation the better. In the pan or on the grill, salmon stays moist and does not fall apart easily.   When it comes to nutritional value salmon has little competition in overall protein, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and collagen.

You could say I am on a salmon run of my own.  Last week it was Smoked Salmon Mousse, this week I have finally succumbed and used up the last can of wild caught salmon.  It was a touchstone on my shelf that I did not give up easily.

No question, Salmon Potato Latkes—otherwise known as potato pancakes with salmon—are a worthy treatment for any fresh caught salmon.  If you don’t happen to have a can of salmon hanging around, an 8 oz fillet or steak lightly poached will work beautifully, too.Salmon Latke

Remember to begin by coarsely grating the potato and onion; allow it to drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes, and then wrap it all in toweling while assembling other ingredients. This removes unnecessary moisture and helps the egg to bind all into crisp salmon studded potato pancakes.

Salmon Latke with forkTraditionally, potato pancakes are served with applesauce or sour cream. Here, I opt for a quick sauce of yogurt speckled with green onions and capers.

Beyond a light dinner entree, consider this a breakfast alternative, a brunch option topped with an egg and perhaps a little Hollandaise Sauce, or make dollar-sized cakes for an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre selection.

Salmon Potato Latkes

Inspired by Classic Potato Pancakes by Andrew Friedman at Epicurious.com

1/2 large onion — peeled
2 medium Idaho baking potatoes — peeled
8 ounces salmon, approximate — canned or fresh caught filet or steak, poached, skinned
1 large egg
salt and pepper — to taste
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons butter
Yogurt-Caper Sauce (follows)

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Spray baking pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Coarsely grate the potato and onion and allow to drain in colander for 10 to 20 minutes. Squeeze out moisture and move to toweling; wrap snugly to absorb more moisture.
  3. In large bowl, beat the egg then slowly whisk in the flour. Season lightly with salt and pepper; add the potato-onion mixture. Break the salmon into chunks and lightly stir it in, do not over mix.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. When hot drop 1/4 cup scoops into pan and press lightly into 3″ cakes. Cook about 4 minutes per side until golden brown and crisp. Drain on toweling and keep warm in oven. Wipe any debris from pan, add more oil, and repeat until all are cooked. Serve with Yogurt-Caper Sauce. Makes about 10 potato pancakes.

For Yogurt-Caper Sauce: combine 1 cup or more plain yogurt with 1 Tbsp drained small capers and Tbsp minced green onion.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.