Smoked salmon paté moulds

by Jeanne on January 30, 2009

in Christmas, Recipes - fish, Recipes - gluten-free, Recipes - starters & light meals


As I mentioned before, over Christmas and New Year I had to produce food in three kitchens other than my own, and to save my sanity I decided to come up with three recipes based on one central ingredient:  smoked salmon.

In the first of this 3-part series, I told you how I made salmon and dill chowder using hot-smoked salmon and from a couple of questions asked in the comments, it became apparent that not everyone knew what I meant when I talked about hot-smoked as opposed to cold-smoked salmon.  This recipe calls for both, so I thought I'd provide you with a little primer.

For cold-smoked salmon, the fish are first filleted each whole side is covered in a layer of salt (often mixed with other seasonings) for six or more hours to cure. The salt draws out moisture, prevents the growth of bacteria, kills microbes and flavours the fish. The fish can then be dried for several hours before cold smoking, a slow process at a low temperature: 70° to 90°F (20-30C) for 1 day to 3 weeks.  During this process the fish is not held over the fire as in hot-smoking.  Instead, smoke is passed over the food, but the food is held in a separate area from the fire. Since the fish is not actually cooked, the interior texture smooth, supple and buttery.  Cold-smoked salmon is usually sold either as a whole side of fish, or in thin slices.  

For hot-smoked salmon, the fish are filleted and smoked from 6 to 12 hours at temperatures ranging from 120° to 180°F (49-82C), producing a thoroughly-cooked fish.  Generally, hot-smoking involves holding the food directly above the fire, or in an enclosure that is heated by the fire (barbecue is a form of hot-smoking). The temperatures reached in hot-smoking can kill microbes in the food.  It is sold cold, to be eaten just like cooked salmon, but can be used in most of the same preparations as cold-smoked. It is usually sold in fillets (like smoked mackerel) rather than slices and has a flaky rather than a buttery texture.  In some places, this is called kippered salmon.

Both are delicious, but obviously the textural differences mean that one may be more suited to a particular dish than the other.  If you want your smoky fish flavour in flakes, go for hot-smoked/kippered.  If you need a pliable slice of smoked fish for wrapping or draping, go for cold-smoked.    

These paté moulds are an adaptation of the smoked mackerel parcels that I have previously written about (which, in turn, were inspired by something I ate at Frieda's Restaurant in Cape Town more than 20 years ago).  The best part about serving them as part of my New Year's Eve starter was the simple but impressive piece of food theatre involved in plating – so do invite your guests to watch if you are out to impress! 




about 250g hot-smoked salmon, flaked
600g Philadelphia cream cheese or similar soft cheese (full or reduced fat)
6 finely chopped spring onions, green parts included
a good handful of fresh dill, chopped
fresh lemon juice to taste
freshly ground black pepper
sliced cold-smoked salmon (1-2 slices per person, depending on size)
lemon wedges and fresh dill to garnish

4 ramekins


Flake the salmon fillets and mix well with the cream cheese, pepper, chopped spring onions, dill and lemon juice.  I usually do this with a fork – no higher-grade equipment needed!  Check seasoning and adjust as needed.

Line each ramekin with a long strip of clingfilm, completely covering the inside surface and making sure there is plenty hanging over the edges to cover the top of the ramekin later.

Line each ramekin with a slice or two of smoked salmon.  You can overlap the slices to make sure the paté is entirely covered, but I quite like seeing some of the paté. 

Fill each ramekin with the smoked mackerel pate, pushing it down lightly and leaving no gaps. 

Fold the remaining clingfilm over to cover the pate completely and press down gently.  Stack the ramekins (so that they slightly compress each other) and place a small round tin/bottle on the top one.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours if possible.


This is where the theatrics came into play.  Make sure you already have a pot of my smoked salmon and dill chowder bubbling away on the stove.

To serve the paté, unwrap the clingfilm.  Upend each ramekin on its own serving plate and gently lift the ramekin, holding onto the clingfilm so that the paté unmoulds.  Remove the clingfilm from each mould and garnish with a lemon wedge and some dill. 

Leave an empty ramekin on each plate beside the paté and fill them with a ladleful of the salmon chowder.  Present your amazed guests with "a duo of smoked salmon" :)

Serve with mixed salad leaves (optional) and warm toast wedges.  And champagne, of course!

Related post – Smoked salmon and dill chowder

Don't forget to get your entries in for this month's Waiter, There's Something in My event – the theme is sweet/savoury swap, so think dessert soup, savoury bread & butter pudding… let your imagination run wild.  Details available here.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

nina January 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I bet everyone’s jaw dropped when you presented this…..too beautiful, Jeanne!


Bellini Valli January 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm

These make a very dramatic entrance to any meal Jeanne.


elra January 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Salmon pate! my family will like this, I really have to try this recipe. They look so elegant and perfect for entertaining.
Salmon chowder sound so delicious too, Jeanne.


Sophie January 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm

I think it is a simple but utterly delicious dish! It is all about good ingredients! Thanks! This is real dinner party food!


Coffee and Vanilla January 30, 2009 at 10:16 pm

What an elegant dish! I love it.
I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe… my family love fish, especially smoked salmon ;) Just had some recently on mini sandwiches we made for our wedding… and since that time I crave for smoked salmon all the time ;)


Coffee and Vanilla January 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm

What an elegant dish! I love it.
I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe… my family love fish, especially smoked salmon ;) Just had some recently on mini sandwiches we made for our wedding… and since that time I crave for smoked salmon all the time ;)


Chou January 31, 2009 at 3:13 am

These are totally out of my comfort realm (landlocked upbringing, sigh), but look so good!


Ivy January 31, 2009 at 10:13 am

These are great for special occasions. I have an Award for you on my blog.


Jan January 31, 2009 at 11:48 am

They look lovely! I’m loving the smoked salmon and dill chowder too!!


Antonia January 31, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Wow – I love the idea of the ‘duo of smoked salmon’. What a spectacular start to a special meal. Fantastic.


courtney January 31, 2009 at 4:25 pm

The whole presentation is very , very elegant.I sure the guests were so impressed. I would this with my champagne and would be very sastisfied.


Scott at Realepicurean February 1, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Delicious, I’m sure. The taste of good quality smoked salmon is unbeatable.


Gill February 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

Those look too, too gorgeous. And you taught me something, I thought smoked salmon was smoked salmon… now I know different!


Rosemary February 3, 2009 at 10:44 am

This looks perfect for the Valentine meal I have planned for next week – something soft and silky, but not too heavy ;)


peter February 3, 2009 at 11:34 am

Jeanne, this course is salmon heaven…I have to reproduce this!


brilynn February 4, 2009 at 1:10 am

That looks lovely! I loved smoked salmon, particularly with maple.


Kevin February 4, 2009 at 2:03 am

What a great way to enjoy some smoked salmon! Smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill is such a nice combo!


KimDaCook February 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

Your food is wonderful, your photos are stunning and your site is amazing thanks for the great food and everything else.


Ziho February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm

It looks delicious and so elegant!
For special ocassions!


Michelle February 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm

These are just appetisers that impress every guest at any occasion. I see you prepared yours with cream cheese, whereas I usually use double cream. Must try it!


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