You can always find a generous selection of seafood in Paris. Most larger marchés will have a range of fish from which to choose, and grocery stores also stock everything from white fish to shrimp, scallops and even seasonal oysters. There’s something elegant about serving seafood to guests who come for dinner or an apéro. Paired with champagne, it sets a nice tone for the evening, but that can also turn into a pricey affair very quickly. With an eye toward the pocketbook and French recipes, I’ve created an easy and fairly inexpensive dish to start any evening on the right foot. It combines salmon with just a few other ingredients, which also makes it a time-saver, so you can spend your evening socializing rather than toiling away in the kitchen.
Salmon is easily found in Paris year-round. In fact, some of us gripe that perhaps it’s a bit too abundant, as is evident on most sushi menus in town, where it often seems like salmon is the only fish that is allowed on rice. You can even find salmon and salmon mousse at Monoprix to grab alongside your kitchen staples.
While we may roll our eyes at the salmon saturation in Paris, we can’t complain too much, because it’s actually quite good. After trying the grocery-store salmon mousse, I thought, I bet I could jazz this up even more and turn it into a cocktail-party star. Seeing as the French aren’t big on bold spices, I decided to throw in some hot sauce to make it a little zestier, and a bit of crème fraîche to keep things French and airy. Place a decorative cucumber or tomato underneath, pop the champagne, and hopefully your year is off to a great start.
Makes about 30 appetizers.
8 ounces smoked salmon
4 ounces whipped cream cheese
3 ounces crème fraîche
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon fresh dill, and some for garnish
1 English cucumber
12 cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1. Grate alternating stripes of cucumber peel to make a decorative pattern and then slice.
2. Cut a small slice off the bottom of each tomato so it will stand upright, and then gently core the tomato, creating an opening on the top to fill.
3. In a food processor or blender, add the salmon, cream cheese, crème fraîche, lemon juice, hot sauce and dill, and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Place the mousse in a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with the corner cut off so you can pipe the salmon onto the cucumbers and tomato.
5. Garnish with dill and serve.
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