After eating generous quantities of winter warmers such as foie gras and cheese-heavy French cuisine, it’s time to try some lighter French dishes, and rillettes de saumon is just the thing. Traditional rillettes recipes typically contain fatty meats such as pork, duck or goose. They require a lengthy process of roasting the meat for an extended period of time, shredding it carefully, then leaving it to set. Rillettes de saumon is among the much lighter French recipes and far quicker to make.
A trendy menu item in many Parisian cafés and at parties, rillettes de saumon contains a combination of poached then shredded fresh salmon, and finely sliced smoked salmon, bound together with a small amount of butter and crème fraîche, and seasonings such as lemon zest, lemon juice, chives and a dash of nutmeg.
Left to set for a few hours, rillettes de saumon is ideal as either an appetizer or an hors d’oeuvre that can be made up to 24 hours in advance. And after all that hearty winter French cuisine, the parisienne party guest will be glad to find something lighter on the menu!
Serves four as an appetizer or makes a generous quantity of hors d’oeuvres.
200 grams (about 7 ounces) fillet of fresh salmon, skin and bones removed
80 grams (about 2.5 ounces) smoked salmon, finely sliced
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or plain Greek yogurt)
20 grams (about 1½ tablespoons) butter, softened
5 chives, finely chopped, plus extra for decoration
1 pinch of nutmeg
fleur de sel
toasted baguette slices, to serve
1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, bring to a simmer, add fresh salmon and poach for 6 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Set aside to cool. (Alternatively, cook covered for approximately 3 minutes in the microwave, or in a steamer.)
2. Place the smoked salmon and lemon zest and juice into a medium bowl.
3. When the cooked salmon is cool, shred it into very small pieces with a fork into the bowl (see photo).
4. Add the crème fraîche, butter, chives and nutmeg and mix well with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cover.
5. Leave to set in the refrigerator for 2–3 hours.
6. Serve cold in a terrine, on a serving dish or even in individual verrines, sprinkled with some extra chives, along with warm toasted baguettes for spreading the rillettes on top.