Oregon has wonderful seafood. Munich, on the other hand, does not have wonderful seafood, and this is something I lament on a daily basis. Alas, I have chosen the mountains over the ocean. That said, whenever I get the opportunity to visit the sea, I make sure to eat as much seafood as possible. True to form, I spent most of my time in Oregon indulging in fish, crab, oysters, and shrimp, in preparation for the return to land-locked Munich. In so doing, I discovered that Oregon lox is melt-in-your-mouth-amazing. One morning, we had bagels with lox and I just couldn’t get enough of it. And then at the wedding one of the appetizers was a combination of lox and a wasabi-spiced cream, and it was such a perfect match of flavors that I knew I would need to re-create it once I returned home.
So even though Munich is not the best place for seafood, smoked salmon is found in all grocery stores and is often served as part of the typical German breakfast spread. So that part was easy. I then took my sandwiches in a decidedly German direction, pairing the salmon with hearty pumpernickel bread. The addition of fresh, crisp cucumbers and wasabi-spiked cream made it a subtle-yet-spicy one-bite masterpiece.
I've already made these tea sandwiches twice since I got back to Munich, and I have a feeling they'll remain in constant rotation. And someday maybe I'll be able to try it with that amazing Oregon lox, which would no doubt take it to a whole new level.
Salmon Pumpernickel Tea Sandwiches with Wasabi Cream
This is really a very simple recipe, though a couple of the ingredients may look exotic. There are easy substitutions if you cannot find frisch käse or crème fraiche - simply swap out a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream. It will change the texture and flavor a little bit, but this recipe is extremely flexible, and basically all forms of soft cheese or cream are decent vessels for the added spicy of wasabi. It's also possible to make this on any type of bread, really. I can imagine a more traditional tea sandwich on white bread, though I do think the pumpernickel is a nice foil for the wasabi cream.
Thinly-sliced German pumpernickel bread
Cucumber, sliced into rounds
1 package lox or smoked salmon
¼ cup frisch käse
2 Tbsp crème fraiche
1-2 tsp wasabi paste, according to taste
1. Slice the bread into bite-size squares.
2. Prepare the wasabi cream – first, mix together the frisch käse and crème fraiche, then slowly add in the wasabi paste, tasting to make sure it is right. The amount of wasabi you add really has to do with your personal tolerance for the spiciness of wasabi.
3. Dollop a small bit of cream on each piece of bread. Next, layer on a cucumber slice, and then the smoked salmon, and top with a more generous dollop of wasabi cream.