Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Salmon Stuffed Cucumber Slices



One of the very best things about social media is the ease with which we can share creative ideas.  I particularly enjoy Facebook and Pinterest for this.  They’re a constant source of information and inspiration to me.  Sometimes, though, things don’t turn out exactly as I hope they will. 

Like everyone who tries lots of new projects, I have my share of failures.  When they happen, I look back at the process and make an assessment.  Is it worth trying again?  Or is it simply an idea that’s not right for me and should be set aside? 

I don’t often share my failed attempts with my readers but, when a failure can be turned into a success it seems worthwhile to share the process.  I figure folks already know I’m human and therefore bound to mess up from time to time, and it’s important to realize the value in learning from my mistakes.  Maybe if someone sees that I can occasionally pull success from failure, they’ll be inspired to try again too.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends, Celeine Sandlin, shared a good idea on Aunt B’s Kitchen:   She hollows out cucumber, stuffs it with salmon, and then slices the cucumber into individual portions.  

Her dish sounded both simple to make and very tasty so I decided to give it a try.

Here are the ingredients I started with:



  • An English cucumber
  • 1 tin of sockeye salmon
  • A tub of herb and garlic flavoured spreadable cream cheese
  • Red onion
  • Red bell pepper

Since I was in the mood to try something new, I decided to try a garnishing idea too:  

Somewhere on Pinterest (I can’t recollect exactly where) I’d seen some very pretty cucumber rounds that had little notches carved through the skin.  The notches were, apparently, made by drawing a fork down the length of the cucumber so that the fork’s tines cut through the peel.

Simple enough, right?

Um...Not so much.

I drew a fork down the length of the cucumber but, although the tines did pierce the skin, there were no pretty little notches left behind.  Instead, I ended up with some crooked gashes down the length of the cucumber, edged with ragged bits of peel.

Since the fork didn’t work and the cucumber was already fairly messy I decided to see if the pointed tip of my vegetable peeler would do a better job.  I drew it down some of the grooves already made by the fork.  It was more visible but also even more messy and ragged. 

Clearly those Pinterest folk knew something I didn’t!

I had only one cucumber and suppertime was drawing near.  There was no time to go to the store for another cucumber and clearly I couldn’t glue in the pieces I’d scraped away.  I got out my paring knife and cut around the damage.  The resulting groove was tidier, but V-shaped and quite deep.

(Click on the image for a larger view.  You'll see my knife cut at the top, 
fork grooves in the middle, 
and the mess my peeler made at the bottom.)

Oh well. 

I forged on.

It seemed to me that it would be easier to cut thick slices of cucumber and then hollow out each slice individually so that’s what I did.  The grooves I cut to repair my garnishing experiment were so deep that when I removed the seeds from the centers of the cucumber slices they barely held together.

They were useable though so I continued on.

I cut both the onion and the pepper into a find dice then I put the salmon and vegetables in a bowl, and mixed them together.  



I mixed in about a third of my container of cream cheese, adjusted the seasoning with a little salt and pepper, then spooned the filling into the prepared slices.  They looked like this:


In the fairy tale land of pretty hors d’oeuvres my salmon stuffed cucumber slices might have been the ugly step sisters, but they were edible so we had them for dinner.

The flavour of the finished slices was acceptable but a little bland, and the moisture from the cucumber watered down the filling.  In this first incarnation they weren't a dish I would make again, but I had some of the salmon mixture left over and I liked the idea well enough to think it worth a second attempt.

I picked up a cucumber on my way home from work the next day and tried my project again.

This time, I cut my slices and hollowed them out, then used a sharp knife with a long thin blade to cut away thin strips of peel from the each slice, leaving alternating strips of light cucumber flesh and dark cucumber peel.

Still not perfect, but far better than my previous attempt.

I salted the cucumber slices fairly liberally and then placed them on a kitchen towel to drain for about an hour. 


While the cucumber slices were draining, I amended the salmon mixture.  I added in some additional onion, some chopped fresh dill, and a dash of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.  That pepped things up a bit!

When the cucumbers had drained, I patted them dry with the kitchen towel and then spooned the stuffing into them.  I garnished each slice with a sprig of dill.


The second attempt was worth the effort.  These salmon stuffed cucumber slices were far prettier than the first ones.  The cucumbers still had good texture, and their flavour benefitted from the extra salt.  The filling was less watery and had a more appealing taste.

They disappeared from the plate in no time. 

I’m sure my third attempt will be even better.  
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