Essential ingredients: smoked salmon


Photograph: Jason Lowe

In our books, smoked salmon is as essential at Christmas as Champagne (perhaps using a slightly liberal definition of “essential”). While delicious on its own, our Head Chef Stewart Turner’s terrine – as easy as it is impressive – might just be the ultimate dinner party starter

Smoked salmon is synonymous with Christmas for me, my father-in-law used to always serve it very classically with lemon, black pepper and buttered brown bread as a starter for Christmas, Easter, the Queen’s birthday (and any other special occasion, for that matter). I think this harks back to when it was still seen as a luxury ingredient and carried the appropriate price tag.

Nowadays the market is flooded with smoked salmon of varying degrees of quality. Much as for wine, there are many different ways of incorporating the effects or flavours of oak into a wine (from chips and staves through to fine barrels) which will have an effect on its quality. The same can be said for smoked salmon: there are many ways of incorporating smoke and they don’t all involve “smoking”.

So if you’re going to indulge in some this Christmas, make sure it’s from a quality producer. At Berry Bros. & Rudd, we use Forman’s which is the oldest smoker in London, although they now have a state-of-the-art facility in the East End. Like us, it’s a family business with over 100 years of expertise.

Their London Cure smoked salmon has just received PGI status, that which is afforded to Parma ham, Wensleydale cheese and, of course, Champagne, marking it as truly special and worthy of any Christmas table.

This terrine is great for Christmas day as it can all be prepared in advance, leaving you free to focus on the main course. But, if you don’t have the time, just make the butter and use this on your brown bread, to serve with the salmon and a wedge of lemon. I’m sure my father-in-law would have approved.

Smoked salmon terrineServes 8
  • 90g butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon
  • 25g anchovy – chopped
  • 2tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1kg sliced smoked salmon
  • 2tbsp lemon oil

Whip the butter in a food processer until light and fluffy, then fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovies, herbs and shallots. Season with freshly ground pepper (to taste).

Line a 1.4kg bread tin with a double layer of cling film leaving the excess over the sides. Begin to fill the tin with a layer of smoked salmon across the base, ensuring there are no gaps. Spread over a thin layer of butter with a palette knife covering the entire space. Continue to build with alternate layers of salmon and butter until the tin is three-quarters full, finishing with a layer of smoked salmon.

Cover the top with the overhanging cling film and press with a 1kg weight; leave to chill overnight to allow the butter to set.

Turn out on a clean chopping board and slice, brush with a little lemon oil and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Accompany with some toasted sourdough and a few green leaves dressed with some oil and freshly ground pepper.

Try it with…

Find a full range of wines suited to Christmas (including up to 25 percent off Pol Roger) on