It shouldn’t take three prompts for a good idea to sink in, but it did. At first, Himself mentioned that he’d had salmon mousse for lunch and that he’d enjoyed it. ‘You used to make salmon mousse all the time and you haven’t made it in ages….’
Within a week, Mrs. Padmore was mentoring Ethel on Downton Abbey, suggesting that she make salmon mousse for a ladies’ luncheon.
-‘But I’ve never made salmon mousse before’ said the hapless Ethel.
-‘Anyone with two arms on them could make salmon mousse’ said Mrs. Padmore, refusing to take no for an answer.
My third reminder was in the Marks & Spencer’s catalogue of food to order for Christmas and the New Year. Winking at me from page 8, and wearing a badge called ‘NEW’, was a beautifully garnished and photographed salmon mousse which serves eight at a price of €29.50 for 770g.
OK, I thought, just do it. I dug out my old recipe and here it is.
- 1 sachet gelatine
- ¼ pint (150 ml) very hot vegetable or fish stock
- 1 lb salmon fillets, skinned and boned, poached and cooled
- 4 ozs (100g) cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine or extra dry vermouth
- 3 tablespoons natural Greek-style yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped dill or parsley
- 6 tablespoons double or whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon anchovy essence
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon slices/fresh dill or parsley/pink peppercorns to garnish.
- Horseradish sauce to accompany
- Dissolve the gelatine by sprinkling it over the very hot (not boiling) stock in a bowl, stirring well to disperse. Leave for 2-3 minutes, stirring once or twice until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes
- Take the cold salmon and mix with the cucumber, mayonnaise, yogurt, wine, lemon juice, anchovy essence and chopped herbs or blend in food processor until smooth. Add the cooled gelatine liquid. Mix thoroughly
- Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick then fold through the salmon mixture until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a mould or serving dish and allow to set for about 2 hours in the fridge. (or a tupperware box or loaf tin lined with clingfilm)
- Turn out, garnish and serve with slices of brown bread and butter, or crackers.
- This freezes well for a month or two.
Be careful where you buy salmon. In a mousse, as in all other things, you get out of it what you put into it. Salmon must be fresh or freshly frozen. Wild salmon is a glorious thing and its flavour is second to none, but it’s very expensive and scarce at this time of year. Intensively reared salmon from fish farms have the poorest flavour. And they’ve had antibiotics, vaccinations and pink dye added to their diet, to make them fit for market . (Michael Pollen writes that research is currently under way to modify salmon and corn so that the fish can be fed corn, a cheaper foodstuff. Scary!). Ask the fishmonger to tell you why he has different salmon cuts on his counter, and why they have a different price per kilo. Know the difference between the many interpretations of the words ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’. Watch out for special offers and learn to discern what’s good value and what’s just cheap.
Salmon is full of nutrients– protein, Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, Vitamin A and B in small amounts, Vitamin D in significant quantities. If you’re not exposed to regular sunshine, you need to get lots of Vitamin D in your diet. The trace elements potassium, iron, zinc and selenium are present in small but significant amounts. This is why the oily fish, salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna are known as brain food.
Most of the other ingredients, apart from anchovy essence, are regular store cupboard items. I keep vermouth or dry sherry for cooking as it avoids the needless extravagance of opening a bottle of wine to put some in a recipe. Don’t be afraid of gelatine- instructions on the packet are very easy to follow.
You could line the tupperware with slices of smoked salmon, then fill in the mousse, for a really luxurious dish. This would also freeze well.
We had it with horseradish sauce, pickled cucumber and smoked salmon on the side. Courtesy of IKEA we had the aptly-titled Knäckebröd crispbreads to add some crunch. Any Scandinavian crackers would do.
And you’ll make it for less than half of what you’d pay for the readymade item.
Never mind the ladies and gentlemen who lunch….older people love salmon mousse as do children who are accustomed to eating fish. All you need is an occasion!