Salmon Crudo with Red Onion and Fried Capers

Salmon crudo with red onion and fried capers is a light, tasty, and refreshing appetizer that forces us to enjoy the exquisite taste of high-quality salmon. Crudo is an Italian name that translates as “raw,” and in this dish thinly sliced salmon is served uncooked. The preparation’s simplicity highlights the fish’s inherent sweetness, enhanced by the sharp bite of red onions and the salty pop of fried capers. This dish is deceptively simple, and it relies on the inherent deliciousness of the fish and a few key ingredients to make it a great starter.

This article highlights the depth of salmon crudo’s great taste, explores its preparation, and provides a proper guide to creating this impressive yet accessible dish. We’ll explore the key ingredients, variations, and essential tips to ensure your salmon crudo is a success in the culinary arts.

Why You’ll Love Salmon Crudo with Red Onion and Fried Capers

  • Light and Refreshing: Raw salmon easily digests, making it a great choice for people looking for a lighter option. This appetizer is perfect for any occasion if you want to start your meal with something light and tasty.
  • Simple Yet Elegant: With only a few ingredients, this dish allows the quality of the salmon to take center stage and is a great way to showcase your culinary skills without spending hours in the kitchen.
  • Flavorful and Balanced: The delicate sweetness of salmon blends beautifully with the pungent bite of red onion and the salty pop of fried capers, and the squeezing of lemon juice adds a touch of acidity, creating a full and delightful flavor profile.
  • Highly Customizable: This recipe serves as a base, easily adapting to your preferences, so you can explore different herbs, oils, and flavors to create your own signature crudo.
  • Perfect for Entertaining: Salmon Crudo is a great appetizer that will definitely impress your guests because it’s quick and easy to prepare, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your meal or simply enjoy your company.
  • Healthy and Nutritious: Salmon is an excellent source of lean protein, healthy fats, essential vitamins, and minerals, so this dish is a great way to incorporate these health benefits into your diet.

What You Need for Salmon Crudo with Red Onion and Fried Capers


  • Ultra-Fresh Salmon: This dish relies heavily on the quality of the salmon, so you should look for sushi-grade or sashimi-grade salmon, ensuring it’s refreshing, vibrantly colored, and firm to the touch.
  • Red Onion: Use thinly sliced red onion, as it adds a touch of pungency and color to the dish.
  • Capers: Capers, with their small, spicy flower buds, provide a delightfully salty and savory flavor. Fried capers add a delightful textural contrast to the silky salmon. 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: High-quality extra virgin olive oil provides the base for the dressing and enhances the overall flavor profile.
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds a touch of acidity, balancing the richness of the olive oil and the sweetness of the salmon.
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Seasoning is key for a well-rounded and flavorful dish.
  • Fresh Herbs (Optional): Chopped fresh herbs like dill, chives, or parsley add a vibrant touch and a layer of complexity to the dish.

Tools and Equipment:

  • Sharp Knife: A very sharp knife is essential for thinly slicing the salmon to achieve a smooth and delicate texture.
  • Cutting Board
  • Serving Platter or Plates
  • Small Bowl or Whisk
  • Spoon
  • Saucepan or Skillet (for frying capers)
  • Paper Towels

How to Make Salmon Crudo with Red Onion and Fried Capers

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Salmon: First, place the salmon on the cutting board and make sure there are no bones or skin in it. Next, use a very sharp knife that can easily cut the salmon thin as opposed to grain, and aim for at least slices that are about 1/8-inch thick, or even all the same. Now arrange the salmon slices on a cold serving platter or on separate plates.
  2. Slice the Red Onion: Cut the red onion thinly. To reduce the sharpness of the chopped onion, soak it in cold water for 10–15 minutes. Dry the onion thoroughly before using.
  3. Fry the Capers (Optional): Heat a small amount of oil in a saucepan or wok over medium heat. Carefully add the capers (they will scatter) and sauté for 30–60 seconds, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  4. Assemble the Crudo: Drizzle a touch of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice over the salmon slices. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with the drained red onion and fried capers (if using). Garnish with fresh herbs (optional) and serve immediately.
  5. Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Expert Tips & Tricks for Perfect Salmon Crudo

  1. Super Fresh is Key: The quality of the salmon is paramount. If you’re not using fresh salmon, ensure you’re using sushi-grade or sashimi-grade salmon, frozen and properly thawed according to FDA guidelines. Look for vibrant pink or orange flesh with minimal marbling. Avoid any fish with a fishy odor.
  2. Sharpen Up: A very sharp knife is crucial for achieving thin, even slices of salmon. Dull knives tear the flesh, resulting in a less enjoyable texture.
  3. Freezing for Safety: If you’re not confident about the source of your fresh salmon, consider freezing it for at least 7 days at -4°F (-20°C) to eliminate potential parasites. However, sushi-grade or sashimi-grade salmon should already be safe for consumption raw.
  4. The Power of Chilling: Throughout the preparation process, keep everything chilled. This ensures the salmon remains firm and easier to slice, and it also preserves the freshness of the dish.
  5. Taming the Bite: Soaking the red onion in cold water mellows its sharpness. If you prefer a stronger onion flavor, you can skip this step or shorten the soaking time.
  6. Don’t overdress: A light drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice is all you need. Too much dressing can overpower the delicate flavor of the salmon.
  7. Customize Your Crudo: This recipe provides a basic framework. Feel free to explore different flavor profiles by incorporating additional ingredients, such as:
    • Citrus: A squeeze of orange or grapefruit juice can add a delightful brightness.
    • Spice: A pinch of red pepper flakes or a touch of sriracha can add heat.
    • Aromatic Oils: Infused olive oils, such as garlic or chili oil, can add a subtle layer of complexity.
    • Fruits: Diced mango, avocado, or cucumber can introduce refreshing sweetness and textural contrast.
  8. Leftovers: While not ideal, you can store leftover salmon crudo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. However, the texture of the salmon will degrade slightly. Enjoy it immediately for the freshest and most flavorful experience.

Serving Suggestions

  • Simple Elegance: Keep the presentation simple to allow the vibrant colors and textures of the dish to shine. Arrange the salmon slices on a chilled platter, top with red onion and fried capers, and garnish with fresh herbs.
  • Crusty Bread: Offer slices of crusty bread for guests to scoop up the salmon and savor the dressing.
  • Salad Option: A light and refreshing salad can complement the richness of the crudo. A simple arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette is a perfect pairing.
  • Flavorful Drizzle (Optional): For an extra layer of complexity, drizzle a touch of flavored oil over the finished dish. Options include truffle oil, a citrus-infused oil, or a spicy chili oil.

The Final Bite

Salmon crudo with red onion and fried capers is a light, flavorful, and impressive appetizer that’s surprisingly simple to prepare. With fresh, high-quality ingredients and a few basic techniques, you can create a restaurant-worthy dish in your own home. The versatility of the recipe allows for customization, letting you explore different flavor profiles and personalize it to your tastes.

So, the next time you’re looking for a stunning and elegant starter, impress your guests with this delightful salmon crudo. We encourage you to experiment with different ingredients and find the perfect combination that tantalizes your taste buds. Enjoy!

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