Mousse de Saumon

A superbly decorative moulded salmon mousse, Mousse de Saumon (mooss d’ soh-mawn) makes an elegant centrepiece for a cold formal buffet, or, served in small quantities, a first course for a dinner party. The dish takes time and effort to prepare, but the impressive result makes it well worth the effort.

The only accompaniments necessary are boiled new potatoes, tossed in butter and sprinkled with parsley, or hot crusty bread and butter and, to drink, a good chilled white wine such as Pouilly Fume.2 small shallots, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon salt

4 black peppercorns, very coarsely crushed

1 large bay leaf, crumbled

½ lb. salmon steaks

8

11. oz. dry white wine

10 fl. oz. aspic

8 fl. oz. bechamel sauce, cold

2 oz. gelatine dissolved in

1 tablespoons warm water

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons tomato puree

2 tablespoons Madeira

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 fl. oz. double cream , whipped until thick but not stiff

GARNISH

6 large, flat lettuce leaves, washed and shaken dry

8 fl. oz. mayonnaise

6 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced

6 very small tomatoes, thinly sliced 11 black olivesr stoned

First, poach the salmon steaks. Cover the bottom of a large, heavy saucepan with the shallots and half the lemon slices. Sprinkle over half the salt, peppercorns and crumbled bay leaf. Arrange the salmon steaks, in one layer if possible, in the saucepan. Sprinkle over the remaining salt, peppercorns and bay leaf, and cover with the remaining lemon slices. Pour over the wine.

Set the pan over moderate heat and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove the pan from the heat.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the fish to a wooden board. Discard all the vegetables, flavourings and cooking liquid, or use as a base for fish stock.

Mousse de Saumon is a very elegant dish, guaranteed to impress.

With a sharp knife, skin and bone the fish and cut it into chunks. Mince the fish in a food mill, or blend in an electric blender. Set the salmon aside.

Pour 7 fluid ounces of the aspic into a 2-pint fish-shaped mould. Tip and rotate the mould over a large shallow bowl filled with crushed ice until the aspic has set evenly over the bottom and sides of the mould. Place the mould in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the salmon and bechamel sauce. Stir in the dissolved gelatine and blend it in thoroughly. Beat in the cayenne pepper, tomato puree, Madeira, lemon juice and cream. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove the mould from the refriger-ator. Spoon the salmon mixture into the mould, smoothing it down with a flat-bladed knife.

Place the mould in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours, or until the mousse is just set.

Remove the mould from the refriger-ator. Pour over the remaining aspic, smoothing it evenly over the top of the mousse with a flat-bladed knife so that the mousse is completely covered.

Return the mould to the refrigerator and chill for 4 hours.

Completely cover the base of a chilled large oval serving platter with the lettuce leaves, overlapping the leaves in the centre. Set the platter aside.

Fill a small forcing bag, fitted with a medium-sized star-shaped nozzle, with the mayonnaise and set aside.

Remove the mould from the refriger-ator. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the mousse to loosen the sides. Quickly dip the bottom of the mould into boiling water. Holding the lettuce leaves in place with one hand, invert the serving platter and place it over the mould. Check that the lettuce leaves are still in place and reverse the mould and platter, giving a sharp shake. The mousse should slide out easily.

Pipe decorative swirls of the mayon-naise around the edge of the mousse. Place the egg slices, side by side, around the edge of the dish. Place a tomato slice on every other egg slice. Place an olive in the centre of each tomato slice.

Place the dish in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

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