Quenelles are a sort of French dumpling which I always used to avoid because they looked too difficult to make, but this foolproof recipe is easy and guaranteed to impress. For a less spicy taste, just serve in a clear chicken broth with the spinach and a splash of lemon.
For the Quenelles
- 350g (12 oz) par-smoked trout fillets, skinned and chilled
- 100g (3½ oz) sliced smoked salmon, chilled
- 1 large egg, chilled
- 150ml (5 fl oz) double cream, chilled
- 100ml (4 fl oz) dry vermouth
For the Thai Curry Broth
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1½ teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 4 shallots, quartered
- 4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 small green chillies, chopped (with seeds if you like it hot!)
- the fat parts of 3 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
- 3.75cm (1½ inch) piece of ginger, chopped
- 8 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
- large pinch ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- about 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- zest of 1 lime
- 1.5 litres (3 pints) decent vegetable stock
- 100g (3 - 4 oz) young spinach leaves, finely shredded
- 1 red chilli, chopped for garnish
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roughly chop up the fish and put into a food processor with the egg, cream and a good pinch of pepper and process in bursts until very smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover and chill for an hour or so (longer is best) to allow mix to set.
- Next, crush the coriander and cumin seeds a bit with a rolling pin. Put the shallots, garlic, chilllies, lemongrass, ginger, spring onions and turmeric into a food processor, process until a rough paste and put to one side. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, stir in the crushed spices, and toast for 30 seconds until smelling good. Add the paste, stir well, then add the lime juice and zest. Cook gently for about 5 minutes or so until everything is soft but not browned, and the oil begins to separate.
- Stir in the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes, then taste or seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. If the broth is too strong, you can add a dash of water, or more lime juice until it tastes good to you. Pour through a strainer into a saucepan, pressing on the solids to get all the liquid out. Discard the solids. Set the broth aside.
- Now cook the quenelles. Fill a shallow wide sauté pan with cold water and add the vermouth, peppercorns, and a good pinch of salt. Boil for 2 minutes then turn down the heat to a very gentle simmer - the water should just tremble or the quenelles will disintegrate. Using two dessertspoons dipped in cold water, shape the well-chilled salmon mix into oval quenelle shapes and slide each one into the pan. Once the pan is full but not overcrowded (8 or 9), poach for about 8 minutes, turning them over halfway through. They should be firm enough to hold their shape. When cooked, lift out and drain on a clean tea towel. Repeat with the remaining mixture - you should have 12-18 quenelles in total.
- To serve, reheat the broth until boiling, stir in the shredded spinach then ladle into warm soup plates, adding 3 quenelles to each bowl. Garnish with some chopped red chilli.
- The quenelles can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, then reheated for 30 seconds on High on the microwave.