Tuesday 25 September 2007

Salmon rilletes

The first time I ever tasted Salmon rillettes was for brunch at Bouchon in Las Vegas. At the time, I wasn't quite as into food and as I am now so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. When I enquired of the waiter what it was he described it to me as a salmon pate of sorts. Since I am a huge fan of pate, I decided to give it a try. In hindsight, I am really glad I did. If my memory serves me, the rillettes were served with a side of toasted croutons and I remember thinking that they were one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. It was a creamy spread containing chunks of steamed and smoked salmon and flavoured with Pernod.

When I came across this recipe in delicious., I knew I had to give it a go. As you'll see in this particular recipe, both salmon and trout are used. I'm sure you can substitute the smoked trout with smoked salmon if you prefer. I stayed true to the recipe and thought that it was as exquisite as I remember the Bouchon one being.

The rillettes were a big hit at brunch. Besides me, there were at least one or two others for whom this was their favourite dish. The recipe called for serving it with toasted bagel chips but I chose to serve to it with homemade whole wheat bread instead. If you've never had this before, I highly recommend it. Let me know how you like it if you do. As for myself, I belatedly realized that I also have the recipe for the Bouchon version. I'm definitely going to try that one when I get the chance and compare the two!

Salmon Rillettes
From delicious.

450g skinless salmon fillet, pin-boned
125g unsalted butter, softened
6 eschalots, very finely chopped
1 tbs creme fraiche
250g smoked trout fillet
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
2 tbs Pernod* (optional)
1 tbs chopped dill, plus a sprig to garnish
Clarified butter, to top (see Note)

Place the salmon fillet in a shallow dish and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sea salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning the salmon fillet once.

Line a steamer with baking paper, then steam the salmon fillet over a saucepan of simmering water for 8 minutes until just cooked but still a little opaque in the centre. Remove the salmon and allow to cool.

Melt 40g of the butter in a frypan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until soft. Add a pinch of salt, then cook for a further 2 minutes.

Place the remaining 85g of butter in a bowl and use hand beaters to beat until pale. Add the creme fraiche and beat in well. Break the steamed salmon and smoked trout into pieces and add to the bowl with the eschalots, lemon juice, oil, egg yolks, Pernod (if using) and dill. Beat gently until the mixture is combined but still coarse, then season well. Place in a glass bowl or clip-lock jar large enough to fit all the mixture and cover with a 1cm layer of cooled clarified butter (see Note, below). Top with the dill sprig, then cover with plastic wrap or the jar lid and and chill for at least 1 hour. (The rillettes will keep for 3 days in the fridge.)

Serves 6

Note: To make clarified butter, very gently melt 125g unsalted butter over low heat, skimming any foam off the top but not stirring. When the butter is melted, remove from the heat and leave to stand for 1 minute, so the milk solids settle to the bottom. Carefully pour off the golden clarified butter into a jug and discard the solids in the pan. Allow to cool before using.
* Pernod is an aniseed liqueur available from bottle shops.

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