Salmon is a classic Scandinavian dish. Spring salmon runs up the fjords and rivers of Scandinavia from late May/early June through most of the summer. Salmon is eaten fresh, but it is also made into gravlax, a mild cold-cured dish made by burying whole salmon filets in a mixture of salt, sugar, and herbs.
Salmon also features in many New England summer traditions, including Fourth of July menus, which consisted largely of salmon, new potatoes, and fresh peas. Historically, as with many springtime fish runs, salmon was inexpensive and easy to obtain, both in the United States and Scandinavia. Not so anymore.
I wanted to serve salmon at my Scandinavian Midsummer Porch Party, but I was also short on time and feeding a crowd. I decided against the more intensive prep of a poached or grilled salmon filet and settled on the easier and more wallet-friendly canned salmon instead. I use the smaller tins of sustainably harvested wild-caught salmon that don't contain any skin or bones.
The inspiration for this recipe came from a historic one I saw a while ago. Linda Hull Larned's One Hundred Picnic Suggestions cookbook, published in 1915, had a recipe for Salmon Salad which called for the use of rice, but offered an alternative of hard boiled eggs and cucumber. Since I was already making deviled eggs, I decided to go a little lighter and use just cucumber.
Salmon Cucumber Salad Open-Faced Sandwiches
This recipe makes a lot of sandwiches (enough for all of the ones pictured above), so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you're serving fewer people.
2 cans (5 oz. each) salmon
1 cup finely chopped English cucumber
2 scallions, sliced
fresh dill, minced
lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Drain and flake the salmon, then stir in the cucumber, scallions, and fresh dill. Add salt and pepper and a splash or two of lemon juice or white wine vinegar and toss to coat. Stir in Dijon mustard and mayonnaise to coat. Serve on thin slices of fine-grained but sturdy white bread (I used semolina batard). You should probably butter your bread slices - I didn't, thinking the mayonnaise was moist enough, but they got a little soggy! You could also serve on toast or with water crackers.
If you can't find or don't like salmon, you could certainly substitute tuna. But if you don't generally like tuna salad, give salmon salad a try! It is milder-tasting and the cucumbers give a refreshing crunch.
If you wanted to be extra-fancy, you could certainly also use leftover grilled, poached, or roasted salmon, flaked, although be aware that most modern salmon filets are going to be fattier than canned salmon, so keep that in mind, flavor-wise.
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.
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