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« Remembering Nana | Main | Sweets for the Sweet on Valentine’s Day »

A Match Made in Delicatessen Heaven

By Katie Barreira

This Valentine’s day, I’d like to celebrate the union of two New York icons, pastrami and smoked salmon.

When I lived in the East Village, bagels and lox from the appetizing institution Russ & Daughters became a Sunday ritual. Providing everything you’d eat with a bagel to finicky New Yorkers since 1914, no one shows lox more love than Russ.

Among the catalog of cured fish, I found myself particularly smitten with the Pastrami-Cured Salmon, which Russ describes as “salmon smoked to perfection and then covered in a special pastrami rub of 14 different herbs and spices.”

With the Russ family’s shop located just doors from Katz’s, the deli making pastrami famous since 1988, it’s not hard to see why these two New York specialties, smoked salmon and pastrami, got together.

Alas, since I relocated to the West Village, my steamy love affair is with pastrami-cured salmon has suffered. But a recent lunch at David Burke Kitchen, where the Pastrami Salmon was made by brushing smoked salmon with molasses and sprinkling it with pastrami spices, rekindled the spark.

I still go to Russ & Daughters for the real deal Pastrami-Cured Salmon any chance I get, but now I can recreate the blissful marriage of flavors at home, too.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Pastrami-Smoked Salmon Sandwich
One of the best sandwiches on the Russ & Daughters menu is The Pastrami Russ, Pastrami-Cured Salmon with Sauerkraut and Mustard on a Bagel or Bialy. Here’s my version, made with store-bought smoked salmon, Jewish rye and a bit of crème fraîche mixed into the sauerkraut to balance the salty tang of the fermented cabbage and mustard.

Makes 2

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
4-ounce package sliced smoked salmon
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons crème fraîche, sour cream or mayonnaise
1/3 cup sauerkraut, drained
4 slices rye bread
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

  1. In a small bowl, combine cayenne, coriander and paprika. Lightly brush one side of each salmon slice with molasses; lightly sprinkle with the spice mix, then the caraway seeds. (You don’t need to use up all the spice mix.)
  2. Stir the crème fraîche into the sauerkraut.
  3. Spread mustard onto two of the bread slices, then top each with the salmon and the sauerkraut mixture, dividing equally. Close sandwiches with the remaining bread slices.

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