24 Feb salmon + “salad cream”
Salad cream will forever be linked in my mind to my grandmother’s table. She ate seasonally and locally, always. In the early spring and throughout the summer, evening meals at my grandmother’s house were simple cold platters of ham, lettuce from her greenhouse and a few tomatoes, served with sliced batch pan. Omnipresent on the table was a bottle of salad cream.
It’s possible you have similar memories, particularly if you grew up in the 80s and 90s, of salad cream being a part of an everyday spread. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it placed on a table though no doubt it’s still being used as a dressing for salads and cold platters around the country. It was first developed by Heinz during the first world war, as an alternative to mayonnaise which had become expensive to produce due to wartime rationing.
You can make your own salad cream in a similar way to making your own homemade mayonnaise. There are a few recipes online which mix egg yolks with white wine vinegar, adding mustard and cream to get the salad cream effect. Have a look at James Martin’s recipe at bit.ly/martinsaladcream.
This week, I’m making a cheat’s version of salad cream, by flavouring sour cream with a hint of lemon and mustard. It’s not quite the same as what we shared on my grandmother’s table but it’s a good first step in reacquainting yourself with the comfort of salad cream.
We’ve paired our ode to salad cream with lovely hot smoked salmon from The Burren Smokehouse and boiled baby potatoes. You can hard boil or soft boil your eggs, depending on your preference. The important thing is to get the best quality eggs that you can seeing as they’re at the forefront of this salad.
Salmon + “Salad cream”
4 or 5 baby potatoes
2 free range eggs
1 bag of salad greens
100g hot smoked salmon
6 heaped tablespoons of sour cream
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
Handful of fresh mint
Handful of fresh chives
1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the baby potatoes and boil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
2. For the last 8 minutes of boiling, add the eggs to the pan with the potatoes, to achieve a just hard-boiled egg. Drain the potatoes and eggs. Run them both under cold water. If you’d prefer a more hard-boiled egg, add them to the water for the last 10 minutes.
3. Once they have cooled, peel the potatoes but keep them whole. Peel the eggs and slice them into rounds.
4. Arrange your salad greens on a serving platter. Break up the hot smoked salmon using your hands and arrange over the salad greens.
5. Making the “salad cream” by mixing together the sour cream, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. If you prefer a thinner consistency, you can add a little bit of cold water to the salad cream until you have the consistency you’d like.
6. Arrange the peeled potatoes and the sliced egg on the salad greens with the smoked salmon. Dollop some “salad cream” over the salad. Finely chop the mint and the chives and scatter over the salad. Serve with the leftover “salad cream” on the side alongside some crusty white bread.
Storecupboard Essential: Eggs
Eggs are an essential ingredient in my house, indispensable when it comes to speedy suppers. I get Butlers Organic Eggs from Hacketsown in Carlow in The Green Door Market in Dublin 8, but they’re also available in Avoca and Butler’s Pantry shops around the country. Follow them on Twitter @butlersorganics.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on February 23rd 2017