Capers, piquant aioli, arugula and red onion top this fresh, delicate salmon carpaccio. With all the punchy flavors of beef carpaccio and the light, fresh flavor of salmon, this is a spectacular appetizer. Read on and I'll show you how quick and easy it is!
Why I made this recipe
Carpaccio is great at any time of year as long as you can procure fresh, sushi-grade salmon. A luxurious appetizer at Christmas or New Years, it is also a light and refreshing starter in the heat of summer. A perfect fancy appetizer that is quick to make and generally not too expensive because you need less than a pound of salmon.
This is usually served as an appetizer but you could serve larger portions with plain crostini and call it a light lunch too.
Food and memories
If you've read along for awhile, you know I love seafood. I fished commercially for many years and have so many fond memories. Out on the boat, my brother and I would always enjoy the first salmon or prawns of the season raw and it was a highlight of what could be a long season away from friends and family.
These memories remind me that traditions and rituals are important. They keep us grounded while also looking positively into the future with the promise of what each season will bring. (You can find more about our competitiveness in my Crab Cake Recipe post.)
The best salmon carpaccio only requires a few simple ingredients to highlight the delicate, mild salmon. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
- Sushi Grade Salmon - Very fresh salmon is great but frozen is just as good. Frozen at sea salmon is great because the extreme cold (-40'C) of commercial freezers makes it very safe to eat raw and is available year round. I've used sockeye salmon here but you can use whatever you prefer. King/chinook salmon and Coho are both top choices.
- Horseradish - Don't get scared off, there is just a little of this piquant puree in the dressing and it really adds complexity and plays really well with the sweet salmon.
- Capers - These tiny perfect pickles make the flavors contrast and pop. Capers are easy to find and you can use leftovers in salads and on grilled seafood.
- Mayonnaise - I use Japanese mayonnaise for it's light and lemony flavor but regular real mayonnaise will work just fine. Be sure to adjust the dressing to taste with extra lemon, salt and pepper as needed.
See recipe card for quantities.
To make the carpaccio dressing (sauce), mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish and pepper.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
How to slice salmon for carpaccio
Thinly slice salmon at a low slant as shown in the picture below. Lay salmon slices evenly around outside of 4 plates as you cut it.
Slicing the salmon while still partially frozen can help you get extra thin slices. I use a carving knife with small indents that helps prevent the fish from sticking to the blade and tearing.
Place 1 cup arugula in the center of each of 4 plates of sliced salmon.
Drizzle flavored mayonnaise dressing evenly around each plate over the salmon. You can spoon the dressing around or put it in a plastic baggie, snip the corner off and pipe it around neatly.
Sprinkle salmon and arugula with capers, red onion slivers and extra salt and pepper to taste.
Serve right away as is or add thin slices of toasted crostini to scoop carpaccio onto.
*Optional: Drizzle a squish of lemon juice and teaspoon of olive oil over the arugula on each plate.
Hint: Set out wedges of lemon and a dish of flaky sea salt for guests to season their salmon as they like.
Arugula - swap out peppery arugula for microgreens, parsley or shredded romaine lettuce if you prefer.
Salmon - if you don't like or can't eat raw salmon, you can use flaked cooked salmon. It won't be true carpaccio but it will still taste so delicious. (Raw seafood is not recommended for pregnant women or children under 5.)
This is a versatile recipe that will work well with many types of sushi-grade raw seafood. Below are my favorite variations.
- Smoked salmon carpaccio - this recipe is delicious with thinly sliced lox or cold smoked salmon too.
- Salmon crostini - spread carpaccio dressing on crostini and top with salmon, arugula or microgreens and sprinkle with capers and slivered red onion.
- Tuna carpaccio - swap out salmon for sushi grade tuna for an equally delicious seafood carpaccio.
Carpaccio dressing can be made and stored covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days in advance. The salmon should be purchased or thawed and used within 1-2 days.
Once made, salmon carpaccio leftovers should be stored covered in the fridge and used within 1 day.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Yes, salmon carpaccio is raw. It is perfectly safe to eat if you source sushi grade salmon or seafood.
No. Carpaccio is Italian and the original is made with raw beef. Carpaccio is like the Italian version of sushi!
This dish is generally served as an appetizer so there are many foods you can serve with it as the main part of the meal.
This makes an excellent starter for a seafood meal. Easiest Seafood Alfredo or Snapper Laksa are perfect second course dishes after this salmon recipe.
Carpaccio is also a classic choice to celebrate Christmas or New Years. Follow this light salmon starter with a prime rib roast or leg of lamb for a spectacular and impressive meal.
A dry still or sparkling unoaked white wine also pairs nicely. We love a fresh sauvignon blanc, grassy vinho verde or even an unoaked chardonnay.
The key to success in this recipe is getting the freshest salmon (or frozen-at-sea salmon) you can. Fresh salmon should smell mildly like the sea with no strong "fishy" smell. Sprinkling lightly with sea salt further enhances the special flavor of fresh salmon. These two tips will ensure a fantastic result.
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- 350 grams Salmon fillet (boneless) (About ¾ lb but you can use a little more or less as you like)
- ⅓ c Mayonnaise (Japanese mayonnaise is my preference)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice (Plus more for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon Horseradish, grated (Jarred horseradish is what I've used here but fresh works well too)
- ½ teaspoon Pepper, freshly ground
- Salt to taste
- 4 c Arugula
- ½ c Red onion, slivered
- 2 tablespoon Capers
Make the carpaccio dressing
- Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish and pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Assembling Salmon Carpaccio
- Thinly slice salmon at a low slant as shown in the pictures above. Lay salmon slices evenly around outside of 4 plates.
- Place 1 cup arugula in the center of each of 4 plates.
- Drizzle flavored mayonnaise dressing evenly around each plate over the salmon. Sprinkle salmon and arugula with capers, red onion slivers and extra salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve right away as is or add thin slices of toasted crostini to scoop carpaccio onto.