A creamy and savory salmon molded salmon mousse is a classic and kitschy way to feed a crowd. Made from canned salmon (this is basically the ONLY thing canned salmon is really good for) and pantry staples, it's a budget friendly dish that will be sure impress. And yes, you can replace fresh cooked salmon for the canned salmon, or sub 1 cup of the canned salmon for 1 cup of smoked salmon. Or you can even try it with tuna! It's a very adaptable recipe; just have fun with it!
For my retro party, I made this mousse in two really cute fish-shaped molds I found at Sur La Table for about $10 each. I used paprika, olives, and pimentos to decorate the finished mold and served it atop a bed of fresh dill with a knife and plenty of crackers for snacking.
The mousse can be made up to 24 hours in advance and unmolded just before serving. To quickly release it, I just filled a basin with hot water and quickly dipped the underside of the mold in it for a quick 15 seconds. I placed a plate over the mold and quickly flipped it over. It slid out easily (if it doesn't, just repeat the dip in the hot water and try again).
I used an olive cut in half to make an eye, strips of pimento to make scales, and a dusting of pimento for color. The salmon mousse leftovers will keep well-wrapped in the fridge for an additional 2-3 days after your party.
Oh! And just so you know. If you have trouble finding a mold or something goes wrong while taking the mold out, (nothing will! Don't worry!...but just in case) you can just whip it up and serve as a regular dip. None will be the wiser!
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Molded Salmon Mousse
Serves about 20 as part of a party buffet; can be halved
1.5 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely diced shallots
Dash of Tabasco (I used a smoked chipotle tabasco for a little smokey heat)
1 tablespoon smoked spanish paprika (plus more for garnish)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 cups flaked canned salmon, skin and bones removed (can replace 1 cup smoked salmon for 1 cup of the canned salmon)
1 cup heavy cream
Watercress or fresh dill, crackers, pimentos, for garnish and serving
1. Soften the gelatin in the cold water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the boiling water and whisk the mixture slowly until the gelatin dissolves. Cool to room temperature.
2. Whisk in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, diced shallot, Tabasco, smoked paprika, salt, and dill. Stir to blend completely and refrigerate until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about 25 minutes.
3. Use a food processor to puree the flaked salmon (use a little cream if the mixture sticks). Fold this pureed salmon into the slightly gelled mayonnaise mixture using a spatula.
4.In a separate bowl or the base of your mixer, whip the cream until it is thickened to soft peaks and fluffy. Fold gently into the salmon mixture (don't worry if a few small white streaks remain).
5. Transfer the mixture to a 6- to 8-cup bowl or decorative mold. (I used 2 4-cup fish-shaped molds I purchased from Sur La Table for $10 each.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
6. To serve, dip the bottom of the mold in a basin of hot water for 20 seconds, then overturn onto a serving dish. Garnish with fresh dill or watercress. If using a fish shaped mold, use an olive to make the fish "eye" and pimento strips to make scales. Add crackers or toast points (I like pumpernickel!) for serving