February 28, 2022

If gefilte fish is a non-starter for your Passover guests, don’t give up on a Seder fish course. Ask the fishmonger for a small piece of excellent salmon, a cut from the tail end cooks fastest. Use any flavorful liquid to poach the fish.

Serves 12 (1.5 ounce/42g “coins”)

8 tablespoons excellent salted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons richly flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine or water (or vermouth or sake)
4 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler)
6 whole peppercorns
8 ounces fresh salmon filet
4 ounces smoked trout
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon Maldon or French Gray sea salt (crunchy, textured) or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a medium bowl, use a firm silicone spatula to mix the butter, olive oil, and lemon juice until well emulsified. This will take some work, pressing the butter into the sides of the bowl and stirring hard to get the oil to mix with the butter and lemon juice.

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the wine with the lemon peel and peppercorns until small bubbles appear across the surface. Slide the salmon into the pan, return the liquid to the slow boil, and cover. Cook until just lightly pink and opaque. Check the salmon after 4 minutes and every 2 minutes after that until just cooked through. Err on the side of undercooked as it is possible to finish the cooking off the heat, as it sits in the hot liquid.

Transfer the fish to a cutting board. Remove and dispose of the poaching liquid and the salmon skin. Cool the fish and then flake it using two forks or your fingers, handling it gently. Add the flaked fish to the butter mixture. Flake the trout in the same fashion and add that to the butter mixture. Stir once or twice. Add the chives, parsley, capers, zest, salt, ground pepper, and smoked paprika. Stir with the spatula until combined. Be as gentle as possible to retain some textural integrity.

To form the rilettes, place a piece of plastic wrap on the work surface and scrape the rillette out. Form, press, push, and otherwise make a 2-inch wide, 12-inch long cylinder shape with flattened ends, using the plastic wrap to assist. Chill overnight, and then slice into 1 inch thick coins to serve. 

I slice and freeze the rounds. They are lovely for apero hour, defrosting in about an hour, served with both crackers and cucumber rounds or endive leaves.

Make it fancy. I like to roll the chilled cylinder in minced parsley so the coins are rimmed in green (see photo.) For the best results, place a piece of plastic wrap on the work surface and cover it with ¼ cup finely minced parsley. Place the chilled cylinder in the center of the parsley and roll it forward and back to cover the surface completely. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and roll the cylinder on the work surface to press the parsley into the rillette. Chill at least an hour, then slice.

For Passover, I like to serve this with matzo and a roasted beet salad spiked with horseradish (below).

Roasted Beet Horseradish Salad

Makes 2 cups, enough for 12 servings

3 medium to large beets

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Juice of one orange

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish 

Scrub the beets and place them on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Wrap them tightly in the foil and bake in a 350°F oven until a knife plunged in to the largest one meets no resistance, about 1 hour. Cool. Rub each beet to remove the outer skin, slice away the stem end, which is often tough. 

Chop the beets into a tiny 1/4-inch dice precisely and carefully and add the cubes to a medium bowl. Scatter the parsley and chives, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with plenty of delicious olive oil and fresh orange juice. Stir well until the salad is glistening. Taste and add horseradish according to your preference. I like the zing a full hearty tablespoon provides. 

Serve at room temperature.


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