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Nero Wolfe’s Salmon Mousse September 23, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Fish, Wolfe recipe.
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Readers, there’s something we need to discuss. While the recipes in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook are a little dated, on the whole they hold up – certainly in terms of flavour, but generally in terms of ingredients and technique too. However, some recipes are definitely products of their time, and while a passing reference in a story isn’t out of place, the recipe itself is of historical interest rather than contemporary appeal. By which I mean: salmon mousse has no place on a dining table outside of a Monty Python sketch.

I decided that if I was going to make a thing like salmon mousse, I might as well make as ‘of the era’ as I could. I contemplated making an entire salad in aspic, but thought that might be going a bit far. As with all Nero Wolfe recipes, this salmon mousse recipe called for good quality ingredients and plenty of time in the kitchen. To be perfectly honest, I would have preferred to eat the salmon without mushing it all up first, but I persisted.

I started by poaching some pieces of salmon in a court bullion of water, wine, onion, star anise, a bay leaf and some sprigs of thyme. When they were cooked, I removed the skin and bones, and flaked all the salmon into a bowl. I added lemon juice, bread crumbs, parsley and some capsicum and mixed it around again. I was essentially making a salmon meatloaf.

I should add, this still looked OK at this point. A bit mushed up, but separate pieces of salmon were still apparent. This did not last, however, as the next step was to take the liquid from cooking the salmon, strain it, reduce it, then thicken it by adding flour and butter. I then had to add this mixture to the salmon and then, in case it wasn’t goopy enough, add a couple of eggs.

There was no way to disguise how this looked. This was sad. Nevertheless I persisted and put the mixture into my bundt tin, figuring this would give me an appropriate shape for the mousse once cooked.

I put the bundt tin inside a larger oven tin and added warm water. I put the whole lot in the oven and baked it for about an hour. If you ever want to replicate this, I should note that while the recipe states that it takes 45 minutes-1 hour, it took at least an hour and even a bit more before it was firm to the touch.

While it was cooling, I made up a sauce to go with it, by mixing sour cream, dill, lemon juice, parsley and sauce. After the mousse was cool, I turned it out onto a plate, added the sauce in the middle and decorated it – appropriately…

It looked really depressing. It was really depressing – but also amusing. The thing is: despite appearances, it tasted really good. The salmon was nice and fresh, and was complimented by the herbs in the mousse as well as the dill sauce.

Honestly, this is probably not a Nero Wolfe recipe I’ll make again, but if you ever need a salmon mousse recipe, I’d certainly recommend it.