Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gratin Dauphinois with Fish Mousse and Vegetable Macedoine

         It is amazing sometimes to look at a dish that comes out of your kitchen and to try to analyze what inspired you to create it. It can be a childhood memory, a dining experience at a posh restaurant, a photo from a magazine or a book…

         I have always been impressed by a modern way of presentation of complex desserts; especially I love it when things of different colours and shapes are put together in a complicated yet organic composition. Imagine a rectangular piece of pastry (or a sponge cake) with a quenelle or a “tube-shaped” mousse on top and some fruit compote or coulis around. Isn’t there a beauty in its elaborate yet laconic look? Recently, however, I got obsessed not only by the general appearance of such a sweet dish but by the idea of making a savory dish that would look the same. Do you think it’s crazy? But doesn’t creativity sometimes border on craziness?

        When I finally got the courage to implement my weird idea, I thought thoroughly about every element of the dish. Eventually I decided to make gratin dauphinois as a base of the composition and fish mousse as the element that goes on top. Simple sautéed vegetables and tomato coulis served as accomplishment to the dish.

        As my husband saw the whole construction on the plate he tried to find out what the name of the dish is. I explained that the whole thing consists of different dishes and does not have a common name (at least for now). Needless to say, we both liked not only the look, but the flavour and texture of the dish. Rich and creamy potato gratin was counterbalanced by a light mousse and chunky vegetables with fragrant tomato sauce. The caviar contributed to the colour profile of the dish making it more sophisticated, elegant and versatile – just like those elaborate desserts I took my inspiration from!


Gratin dauphinois
500 gm potato, peeled and sliced
400 ml light cream
1 tsp garlic powder
75 gm cheese, grated
salt and black pepper to taste

Fish mousse
500 gm white fish, cold
2 egg whites
1 tbsp lime zest
salt and black pepper to taste

Vegetable macedoine
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup yellow zucchini, diced
½ cup green zucchini, diced
½ cup carrot, diced

Tomato Coulis
4 tomatoes, peeled and deseeded
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp castor sugar
salt and black pepper to taste

2 tbsp salmon caviar
4 springs of parsley


1. For gratin dauphinois, preheat the oven to 200C. Butter a casserole dish and arrange the slices of potatoes, overlapping. Heat cream together with garlic powder and pour it over the potato slices. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for further 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into rectangles.
2. For fish mousse, process the fish with egg whites till smooth. Add lime zest and season the mixture. Spread 1/4 of it over a cling film in cylindrical shape. Roll the cling film tightly around the fish “tube” and secure the ends. Repeat to make 3 more “tubes” with the fish mousse. Poach the tubes in the simmering water for 10-12 minutes, allow them to cool slightly and then remove the cling film.
3. For vegetable macedoine, heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the vegetables, season to taste and cook till they are soft, around 7 minutes.
4. For tomato coulis, puree the tomatoes in blender with lemon juice and sugar. Reduce the resulting puree by boiling it for a few minutes. Press through a sieve and season to taste.
5. To serve, place a rectangle of gratin dauphinois in the centre of the plate. Place a “tube” of fish mousse on top, garnished with caviar. Arrange the sautéed vegetables around, with tomato coulis at the bottom of the plate. Garnish with a spring of parsley. Repeat to make three more serves.

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