This elegant appetizer is great for a crowd because you can make the gravlax a day or so ahead of time and assemble the toasts before your guests arrive, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the party.
- 1 pound salmon in 2 pieces, pin bones removed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
- 2 tablespoons aquavit (or vodka)
- 1 bunch dill, coarsely chopped, divided
- 1/2 cup finely diced shallot or red onion
- ¼ cup drained capers
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ⅓ cup (3 ounces) sour cream or crème fraîche
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- 12 thin slices Danish-style pumpernickel bread, lightly toasted
Set salmon filets, skin-side down on a plate. In a small bowl, combine salt, brown sugar, and caraway and press onto the flesh-side of salmon. Sprinkle on aquavit and top with dill. (Save 1 1/2 tablespoons of the dill for relish.) Sandwich the salmon, skin-side out. Wrap very tightly with plastic, cover with a heavy weight and refrigerate for 24 or up to 48 hours. Remove solids, pat dry, and slice thinly on an angle.
Make the Relish
In a bowl, combine shallot, capers, lemon juice, mustard seeds and the reserved dill.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and chives and spread onto the toast. Cut each pumpernickel toast into 4 rectangles. Top toasts with the salmon and garnish each with a small spoonful of the relish.
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Pair it Up
A dish this elegant deserves a wine to match and an off-dry Prosecco or Cava with sparkling minerality is the perfect choice.
Spice it Up
Chopped pickled jalapeños folded to the cream cheese add tangy heat.
Change it Up
Turn this elegant hors d'oeuvre into a next-day hearty brunch. Spread the cream cheese onto toasted bagels, top with gravlax and shallot-caper relish and serve aquavit bloody marys alongside.
Lighten it Up
For a low-carb, keto-friendly option, use cucumber slices in place of the pumpernickel toasts.
Know Your Cook
Culinary Director Grace Parisi is a cook, writer and cookbook author. Formerly the Senior Test Kitchen Editor at Food & Wine Magazine and Executive Food Director at TimeInc Books, her work has appeared in Cooking Light, Health, O Magazine, Epicurious, Fitness, Today, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart, and many more. She’s the author of more than 6 books, among them The Portlandia Cookbook and Get Saucy, which was nominated for a James Beard award for Best Single Subject Cookbook.