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Seafood Terrine: It’s All in the <i> Mousseline</i>

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If you have ever sampled a good seafood terrine, you have undoubtedly tasted fish mousseline , which forms the body of these fancy seafood loaves. It’s a delicate mixture of ground fish or shellfish, cream, egg whites and seasonings. Chefs use it to stuff fish, layer it with seafood strips in loaf pans to make terrines, or shape it into light oval dumplings called quenelles.

Making quenelles at home can be tricky, but you can use seafood mousseline in easier ways. For a quick and foolproof dish, you can bake mousseline in individual ramekins or small souffle dishes, or you can spread seafood mousseline on fish fillets as a luscious topping before baking them.

Fine restaurants also use mousseline in these simple ways. I’ll never forget an entree I had 15 years ago at the famous restaurant L'Auberge de l'Ill in Alsace: a salmon steak topped with pike mousseline , served with a shallot-scented white wine sauce.

For such a luxurious dish, mousseline is amazingly quick to prepare. You simply grind the ingredients together in a food processor. Scallops, shrimp and such delicate fish as pike and sole are favorites, but I also love salmon mousseline for its flavor and color. If you are baking the mousseline in ramekins, place them in a water bath during baking to keep the mixture moist, and before serving unmold the finished mousselines.

Instead of coating mousselines with a creamy sauce, many chefs today accompany them with a tomato sauce or Tomato Vinaigrette, seasoned discreetly with herbs to complement their subtle taste. For a lighter entree, serve a few slices of baked fish mousseline on a salad of fresh baby greens.

Serve Scallop Mousselines with Parsley Sauce or Tomato Vinaigrette, or with your favorite tomato sauce.

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SCALLOP MOUSSELINES

1 1/2 pounds scallops

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon salt

Dash freshly ground white pepper

Dash freshly grated nutmeg

1 3/4 cups whipping cream

Rinse scallops and dry thoroughly. Puree scallops in food processor until smooth. Add egg whites and puree again until very smooth. Cover and refrigerate in food processor container 30 minutes.

Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to mixture. Return container to food processor base and with machine running, gradually pour in cream. To adjust seasonings to taste, drop 1 teaspoon of mousseline into gently simmering water 1 or 2 minutes until cooked through, then taste. (Neither egg nor seafood should be tasted raw.) Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Generously butter 6 (3/4-cup) ramekins. Fill each nearly to top with scallop mixture. Set ramekins in shallow pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover with buttered parchment paper or foil. Bake at 400 degrees about 15 minutes or until mixture is firm (wood pick inserted in center should come out clean). Remove ramekins from oven and water bath and keep warm. Unmold mousselines onto plates short time before serving. Makes 6 servings.

BAKED SOLE WITH SALMON MOUSSELINE

1/2 pound salmon fillet

1 large egg white

Salt, pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 pound sole fillets

2 shallots, chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice

Parsley Sauce or homemade tomato sauce

To prepare mousseline, remove skin from salmon, using sharp flexible knife. Run fingers over fish to check for bones. Remove bones using tweezers or small sharp knife. Pat salmon dry. Cut into pieces and puree in food processor until smooth. Add egg white and process until very smooth.

Season to taste with salt (about 1/8 teaspoon), pepper and nutmeg. With machine running, gradually pour in cream. Scrape down mixture well and process few more seconds to blend thoroughly. To adjust seasonings to taste, drop 1 teaspoon of mousseline into gently simmering water 1 or 2 minutes until cooked through, then taste. (Neither egg nor seafood should be tasted raw.) Adjust seasonings to taste. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Run fingers over sole and carefully pull out any bones. Pat fish dry. If 2 fillets are attached, separate by cutting lengthwise to obtain individual fillets about 2 inches wide at widest point. Set fish, whiter side down, on work surface and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread mousseline over each fillet in 1/4-inch-thick layer. Fold sole in half.

Sprinkle shallots in large buttered baking dish and set sole on top. Pour wine and stock around, not over, fish. Bake at 400 degrees about 12 minutes, or until mousseline is firm and metal skewer inserted halfway into center 10 seconds comes out warm.

With slotted spatula, transfer fish to platter and keep warm while finishing Parsley Sauce. Transfer sole to heated plates. Spoon sauce around sole and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Parsley Sauce

5 cups parsley sprigs

Boiling salted water

1 1/4 cups whipping cream

2 shallots, chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice

Place parsley in large pan of boiling salted water and boil, uncovered, over high heat 1 minute. Drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Squeeze parsley dry by handfuls.

Chop parsley very fine in food processor. Add 1/4 cup cream. Scrape down and puree mixture until as smooth as possible.

Place shallots, wine and stock in medium saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining 1 cup cream. Boil until mixture thickens slightly. Add parsley puree and simmer until sauce is thick enough to coat spoon. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot. Makes about 1 cup or 4 to 6 servings.

Tomato Vinaigrette

1 pound ripe, very red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon herb vinegar or white wine vinegar

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or chives

1 tablespoon minced parsley

Combine tomatoes and vinegar in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Add tarragon and parsley. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


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