A cool, creamy dip flavored with tender smoky salmon and crunchy fresh veggies, served in the cutest little fish shape!
How cute is this little guy, really? So charming...I just love him. You will look like such a star at your next gathering when you show up with this adorable, Pinterest-worthy appetizer! Plus it tastes fantastic which is even more important, but how much fun is it when something looks as good as it tastes?
This dip is so cute that you almost don't want to eat it. The key word there is almost, because you DEFINITELY want to eat this dip. You may have to be the first one to dig in at the party (it's ok - it's meant to be eaten!), but make sure you do, because people are going to love it! Using garden veggie and jalapeño cream cheese is an awesomely easy way to pack a lot of flavor into the base of the dip, and it just gets better from there with tons of rich, flaky smoked salmon. The celery and water chestnuts add great crunchy texture, the lemon juice and fresh herbs brighten it up, and the dash of cayenne leaves you with just the tiniest bit of heat. It's great on crackers (of course) and also really yummy on sliced cucumbers (healthy!). As many of my recipes do, this one came from my artistically talented mother, and people always ooh and ahh over the presentation.
Of course, you don't have to make it in the shape of a fish if you don't want to, but it's actually pretty easy to shape & decorate it, and that extra step really makes it a show-stopping appetizer. I'll show you how!
A note about the salmon before I begin. Hot smoked salmon has a firm and flaky texture (like cooked salmon), and cold smoked salmon is softer and is usually sliced (like what you get on a bagel). I make this dip using hot smoked salmon, I LOVE the Honey Smoked Salmon in this picture and I pick it up at Costco...I even saw it at Sam's Club last week for the first time ever!
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl...
If you don't want to make the fish shape, just put it in a pretty serving bowl and top it with a little more dill and parsley. But the fish shape is so much fun, so read on for the how-to!
Scoop the dip onto a serving platter in a very abstract fish shape, as you can see it's kind of a curved log with a split at the end.
Once you have all of the dip on the platter, use a spatula to smooth out and really define the shape, and to cut out a little open mouth.
Cut a couple strips out of a roasted red pepper, and use them to define the head and body, and to outline a fin.
Layer on slivered almonds in a shingle-like pattern to make the scales, I've found it looks best if you overlap them a little.
Use slivered almonds to fill in the fin and tail.
Use an olive, pickle and/or more roasted red pepper to make an eye. I used a tiny pickle slice and a little bit of roasted red pepper, and I tacked them together with a slivered almond so the pepper wouldn't fall off. Use more slivered almonds to give him teeth, and more roasted red peppers to add gills. Add some parsley to the top of his head to make a dorsal fin.
And you're done!
Cute AND delicious!
Marvel at the cuteness for a while, but don't let that hold you back from digging in and enjoying the dip. Yummy noises await you!
Makes about 5 cups of dip, which serves A LOT of people (about 16+)! If you have a smaller group (around 8 or so), you can easily cut it in half.
- 1 lb hot smoked salmon
- 8 oz ⅓ less fat garden vegetable cream cheese
- 4 oz jalapeño cream cheese
- 4 stalks celery , chopped
- 8 oz water chestnuts , chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley , chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh dill , chopped
- 4 green onions , chopped
- 1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- fresh ground black pepper , to taste
- Crackers and/or sliced english cucumbers , for serving
- Roasted red peppers
- Sliced almonds
- Slivered almonds
Add all ingredients (except garnishes) to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
If making the fish shape for presentation, scoop dip onto serving platter and shape. Use roasted red peppers for a fin, gills & an eye, sliced almonds for scales, slivered almonds for teeth and to fill in the fin and tail, and parsley for a dorsal fin.
Adapted from my mom!