Some people bring a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers when they come round for a meal. Our friends Jill and Bruce did both - and topped it with the munificent gift of a large piece of home-smoked salmon.
Bruce has a well-established system in place: he goes to London in the evening, spends a few hours playing cut-throat bridge with friends, and at the crack of dawn goes to Billingsgate fish market to to take his pick of spanking fresh seafood. Then he brings his booty home, fires up his home-built smoker and sets to work.
The salmon he gave us was neatly vacuum-packed but after all his hard work it would have been a crime to just bung it in the freezer. So we waited until we had a few people round and sliced it up as a starter. The salmon was oaky-smoky and delicious and the spicy cucumber salad got five stars from our guests in the taste test. Result.
Smoked Salmon with Spicy Cucumber Salad
A quantity of smoked salmon or other smoked fish
1 large cucumber or 2-3 small cucumbers
For the dressing:
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbspn light soy sauce
1 tbspn toasted sesame oil
A squeeze of lime or lemon juice
1 mild-to-medium red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
Small thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
A handful of coriander leaves
Peel the cucumbers - ours were from the garden and quite spiky and knobby. Then, using a potato peeler, slice them into fine, wide ribbons from top to bottom, leaving behind the seedy middle.
Put the cucumber into a sieve, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain over the sink for about 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Make the dressing, whisking together all the ingredients except the coriander leaves. Toss the cucumber ribbons in the dressing and set aside in the fridge.
When you're ready to eat, slice the salmon finely and arrange on a platter or individual plates. Stir the coriander leaves through the cucumber salad and serve it in neat(ish) mounds on the side.