Smoked Salmon Roll

Impress party guests with this surprisingly easy and forgiving smoked salmon roll or make one to add some sparkle to a weekday meal. The soft nature of the salmon roll requires a sturdy “vehicle” to make this dish work as an appetizer that won’t stick to fingers. It also invites an intriguing contrast of soft and crunchy textures. Be creative and survey all options. Make several days ahead, if desired. Freeze for up to a week. Pair this dish with a dry sparkling wine.


  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 5 capers (but no vinegar)
  • 2 sprigs baby dill, tarragon, or basil
  • 2 lbs. smoked salmon
  • Tomato for garnish
  • Black pepper

smoked salmon roll on pomme gaufrettes


1. Using a food processor, mix cream cheese, onion, capers, and herbs with 3-4 ounces of salmon trimmings taken from the belly, tail, head, and side edges of the filleted fish flesh. Process filling until smooth.

2. Lay out a 2-foot long piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Carefully lay slices of smoked salmon on the plastic wrap in a single layer, slightly overlapping along the long edges of each slice. Lay out a solid rectangle of salmon: keep it narrow so when you’ve finished the roll, each slice is not too large for its accompanying vehicle. Using a cold marble surface will help keep the fish flesh tight as you spread the filling and prepare to roll.

3. With a spatula, carefully apply the filling thinly onto the salmon. Try to leave the salmon slices undisturbed beneath the cheese layer.

4. Along one long end of the rectangle, begin to tuck the edge of the fish-and-filling onto itself: this edge will become the center of the roll so ensure a tight initial tuck. Grasp the long edge of the plastic wrap nearest to you and, as if rolling sushi, roll your palms over the roll as it shapes itself into a pinwheel of salmon and filling. With a smooth motion, draw the plastic wrap away from yourself: the roll should continue to roll into itself. Try to keep your rolling motion constant: trust yourself.

5. Keeping the salmon roll completely encased in the plastic wrap, gently squeeze out any air pockets and make the roll uniform in diameter with a consistent circle of your finger and thumb slid along the roll’s length. Lay roll on a large tray in the freezer and allow to firm up before slicing. Ensure the roll does not become hard frozen: it just wants to chill. Slice with a very thin implement such as a fillet knife or a thin, serrated bread knife. No chef’s knives.

spreading the filling on salmon slices

rolling out the roll using plastic wrap

Pommes gaufrettes, or lightly fried potato waffles, provide a firm surface to hold the slices of salmon roll. More interesting than a cracker but also more involved to prepare, pommes gaufrettes add snazz to any party.

Pommes Gaufrettes

  • 1 potato, peeled
  • 1/4-inch vegetable oil in the pan

Using a mandoline with the “ruffled” blade at approximately 1/4-inch thickness, make thin slices of potato rounds. Rotate the sliced surface 90 degrees each time to produce the waffle effect seen here. Adjust the slice thickness setting to ensure holes appear in the pommes gaufrettes but such that any slice also will not fall apart when cooking.

Heat oil to 375 degrees (medium hot). In stages and without crowding, add the potato slices with tongs. Avoid splattering hot oil by setting in the potatoes rather than dropping them from a height. Halfway through cooking or after about 2-3 minutes, use tongs to flip the slices to cook on the other side. When golden, remove from the oil and cool-dry on a paper towel. Store with paper towel in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Ready to Party

Remove the wrapped salmon roll from the freezer and check for firmness. Resist the urge to slice the roll too soon: it must be firm to produce a pretty pinwheel design.

Cut roll into slices approximately 3/8 inch wide and place on vehicle of choice. Garnish with dill sprigs, capers, and tomato art.


More recipes:

Mini Duck Salad

Winter Squash Soup


Chef José Dahan bio

This article first appeared on

by José Dahan with MzRAD
photos: Jeff Van Kleeck

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