Smoked Salmon on Corn Pancakes…spicy, delicious and gluten free

I was going to call this smoked salmon atop corn blini, but as I finalized my research on whether or not corn masa and potato starch were in fact gluten free I ran across a comment by a very angry Russian person about the travesty of calling anything with corn or peppers in it blini. This person indignantly called such a modification from the original buckwheat an absolute travesty and another example of the “ugly Americans” ruining everything. In the immortal words of Sissy in Urban Cowboy, I therefore proclaim, “Fine…fergit it!”  We’ll call them corn pancakes.

Whatever you call them, they are mostly a vehicle for shoveling piles of smoked salmon into your gullet. Smoked salmon is an oft overlooked appetizer. It is so easy to prepare and so elegant to serve. It is a wonder that more people don’t serve it at home. Smoked salmon can be presented with nothing more than lemon slices and some chopped onions and triangles of toast in my home and be met with wild applause. Add some chopped hard boiled eggs and maybe some thinned sour cream (with a little milk) and up the ante even further. Capers are also essential for some. Though if you are a caper lover, you should learn to use the sour cream in it’s proper place, UNDER the capers, which holds the little devils in place.

I have totally failed to mention the very best part of serving smoked salmon which is that you can prepare all of this very quickly, plate it in advance and have it sitting in the fridge ready to go.  And, you can get eight ounces of salmon in the refrigerator section of the grocery store for ten to fifteen dollars and it keeps in its little airtight pouch for a long time before it needs to be used.  So it is the ultimate standby snack for unexpected guests.

This recipe is a little fussier, but only by a bit.  The basic idea is to cook these little pancakes, which can be gluten free if you choose your ingredients wisely.  Then you merely top the little guys with a dollop of sour cream, some salmon, a few little chunks of avocado and a spoonful of lime laced pico de gallo.

Have I explained that my husband could survive happily for months on nothing but Triscuits and cheese? And, by that I mean for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So when he really compliments me on a dish, I take great notice and you should too.  And, he loved these.  Loved. Loved. Loved.

Smoked Salmon on Corn Pancakes...spicy, delicious and gluten free
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Smoked salmon is the best refrigerator staple for easy entertaining.
Corn Pancakes
  • ¼ cup masa de maiz (corn masa) start at ¼ and add more til you have a good consistency, up to ½ cup
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder (Hain and Clabber Girl are gluten free)
  • 3 to 4 heaping tablespoons of canned corn, reserve juice
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons reserved corn juice (and a little more if needed)
  • 1 finely chopped serrano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • salt
  • 8 ounces of smoked salmon
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup sour cream
Pico de Gallo
  • 1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped small
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced,
  • 1 lime
  • salt to taste
  1. For the pancakes, mix together the masa, potato starch and baking powder in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl combine the wet ingredients and the peppers and corn and stir well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, adding a few more tablespoons of corn juice or milk if you find the batter too thick. Add a pinch or two of salt and mix. It needs the salt. Also, remember that these are not “stand alone” pancakes. If I were making corn fritters or something that I wanted to highlight, I would add some sugar and perhaps some sour cream to the batter, but I didn’t want this to detract from the salmon, so it is slightly boring on purpose, but rev it up if you want to.
  2. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of corn batter into a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Slightly flatten the batter with the back side of a spoon (you want these little pancakes to be flat, not poufy). After about 2 minutes, check the underside of the pancakes to ensure that they are beginning to brown. When the bottoms are slightly browned, flip the pancakes and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes, or until slightly browned. Remove the pancakes to a wire rack to cool. Repeat the process for the remaining batter.
  3. Remove the seed from the avocado and slice it into ¼” slices and then cut the slices into small chunks. Squirt the avocado pieces with a little lime juice to keep them from browning.
  4. Finely chop one roma tomato, one half of a red onion, and seed and finely chop serrano pepper. Mix these together and squirt the remaining juice of one lime over them. Mix well and season with salt, to taste.
  5. Open the smoked salmon and separate the slices into small portions.
  6. Once the pancakes have come to room temperature, layer the toppings in the following order: pancake, dollop of sour cream, salmon, avocado chunks, pico.

Note: I purchase my smoked salmon at Whole Foods.  The masa is widely available here, but if you have trouble finding it in the baking aisle, check the aisle that has Mexican food fixins. The potato starch was in the baking aisle when I bought it, but I understand that it sometimes hides in the Kosher foods section.

Also, I am not required to cook gluten free on a daily basis so I am NOT an expert. If you are gluten free because or health issues, please confirm for yourself that the ingredients listed are, in fact, gluten free. I am learning from dear gluten free friends that gluten can hide in the strangest of places. For instance, she (Adrienne, I’m talking about you) tells me that many “low-fat” foods such as sour cream and cottage cheese are hidden sources of gluten whereas their full fat siblings are not. Choose accordingly.

That’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Or lime squeezy. Whatever. It is really tasty.


  1. says

    Those look like perfect summer hor d’oeurves! The corn pancakes look delish and topped with smoked salmon (my favorite!), even better.

  2. Melody says

    Kelly, the ‘hits’ just keep coming!!! plan to try this out tomorrow. your dad will love it and he is really enjoying your blog and the pictures are INCREDIBLE!!

  3. Kelly says

    Melody…I made these intentionally gluten free, but if you don’t want to deal with searching for potato starch, you can tinker with subbing in regular flour and maybe a little regular corn meal. The pancake batter is very “a little of this” and “a little of that” and you should treat it as such. If it is dry…add a little something wet and if it is too wet, add a little something dry. Very scientific, I know. Let me know how it turns out.


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