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The delicate rosé hues and mildly sweet, distinctively rich flavours of good salmon speak instantly of summer to the avid gourmand’s palate – especially visually.
Popularly used cold or hot smoked, sometimes brined (known as lox), and sometimes fresh, this elegant seafood makes for a classic combination with a few recurring elements, such as dill, lemon, chives, capers, sour cream, and more.
Thankfully, salmon sits pretty in pink, several menus around Pune, paired both with its longstanding culinary amours as well as other, surprising ingredients.
Frisco, for example, transforms the unique fish into a tartare, sidestepping the usual main ingredient (beef) used in this dish. Here, a pretty, squat cylinder comprises finely chopped smoked salmon melding with small bits of crunchy cucumber, tangy capers, a zing of garlic, strong aroma of dill and some rich, fragrant pesto oil.
Fusion Pan-Asian fare-serving, Shizusan also has a Pink Salmon Tartare gracing its menu, coupled with innovative ingredients such as sweet peach slices, crunchy-oily pine nuts, crisp lotus chips for an incredible textural play and jalapeños for fieriness (one must also mention the seafood quinoa maki sushi here, pairing crunchy quinoa with wasabi pea-crusted salmon!).
Latitude at the Vivanta By Taj Blue Diamond, on the other hand, serves its Norwegian smoked salmon in a chilled salad form, coupling it with crisp iceberg lettuce and the fruity saltiness of juicy caperberries – perfect for a very light meal in the often-debilitating Indian summer.
For something a little heavier, head to Chilli’s for its fresh chipotle salmon entrée, bringing a thick, well-cooked and crisp fillet of fish (seasoned with southwestern US-style spicing) together with chipotle rice, smoky chipotle cream sauce and a roasted jalapeno-corn salsa.
Stone Water Grill has a rice element in its salmon entrée as well, with its ‘Dum Pukht’ salmon chimichurri (an appealingly oily mince of several delightfully pungent ingredients) served with seasonal vegetables and a ghee-soaked, aromatic cardamom pilaf.
Euriska does a main, too, coupling its fillet of salmon with a sinful dill beurre blanc, some sautéed spinach and an artichoke barigoule; the latter being a Provençal dish of braised artichokes coupled with earthy flavours, typically in a white wine broth. The establishment also serves an appetizer of smoked salmon with sour cream, zesty chopped onions, fresh arugula, dill leaves and capers.
The Salmon Nicoise Salad at Le Petit Amour is crafted along the same lines, taking house tea smoked salmon and pairing it with a white asparagus purée, beans, olives, tomatoes, egg and greens. They also put their special in-house smoked salmon in a popular crusty bread roll, coupled with a sweet onion marmalade, tangy lemon cream cheese and fresh iceberg lettuce.
Le Plaisir serves a super-succulent salmon sandwich as well, packing two hearty, airy, sourdough muffin slices with thin slivers of perfectly pink smoked salmon, lashings of cream cheese and plenty of finely chopped onion and cucumber – not to forget a smattering of coriander to enhance the flavour.
And, if its smoked salmon sandwiches we are talking about, we cannot forget to laud the smoked salmon bagel at 212 All Day Café and Bar, combining the tender, fatty meat with a veritable hit of wasabi cream cheese, along with its favourite companion, some fresh dill.
Similarly, the Middle Eastern-cum-Mediterranean influences on the Moshes menu make sure it packs lovely variations on salmon, with both a smoked salmon, chive, cream cheese and dill bagel served with a salad in mustard vinaigrette, or some fetching blinis, topped with slender slices of cured fish, mustard cream cheese, cracked coriander and alfalfa, and dill oil.
The Mediterranean byword at Terttulia sees yet another serving of bagel with hearty portions of lox on the menu, as well as a more surprising and unique variation in the form of an enticing wood-fired pizza topped with smoked salmon, bubbling cream cheese, onions, capers and dill – the texture of the crisp base pairs unmatchable with the tender, aromatic toppings. Also unmissable here is the salmon Benedict, a particularly masterful rendition of everybody’s favourite breakfast item, with two runny-yolked poached eggs and an irresistible Hollandaise.
And, speaking of velvety Hollandaises, the Eggs Atlantic at Prem’s serves an equally exciting version of the Benedict, with soft English muffins topped with the happy pink-white-yellow combination of smoked salmon, poached eggs and buttery sauce, respectively.
Since it is established then that salmon makes for a wonderful breakfast hero, do also look towards the stuffed omelette at Tien, which puts together a health-some packing of smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion, dill and capers inside fluffy cooked eggs, served with a plethora of sides including pesto and creamy mashes, multi-grain toast, corn on the cob, fresh tomato salsa and a cold-pressed, fresh juice (or hot beverage).
Go fish, we say!
Shweta has been writing about food for a few years now and has dabbled in TV, print and online journalism for over almost a decade. She has written on and edited for topics ranging from the environment, culture and lifestyle to politics, business and, of course, food. She has written for publications under the Times Group, Fox Life India and NDTV. When she's not devouring a good book or spending vast swathes of time on the Interweb, she loves to set off on all manner of culinary explorations.