Monday, November 26, 2012

Expectations of 'old school'

There are a few recipes scattered throughout the Edmonds book that represent outdated fashions in food; recipes like the cheese ball, which were once commonplace but are now considered a bit retro. The cheese ball turned out to be delicious, and I hoped I'd be able to say the same about luncheon salmon mould (p115).

You know you sometimes see those old copper moulds that are shaped like fish? This is what those are for. You mix up canned salmon with some gelatine and a few other ingredients, then set it in a mould. Of course, I didn't have a fish mould, so I just set mine in a bowl and hoped for the best.

The instructions are to swell gelatine in water, then dissolve over hot water, and after that, add everything else. I decided it made just as much sense to get all the other ingredients ready in a separate bowl while the gelatine was swelling/dissolving, then mix in the gelatine afterwards. It seemed to work ok.

I drained a can of salmon (half-recipe: the full fish-mould recipe uses two cans), carefully reserving the liquid as described in the recipe. To the flaked salmon I added chopped spring onion, mayonnaise, malt vinegar  mustard powder and chicken stock powder. 

I was mixing in the dissolved gelatine when it occurred to me to wonder "hang on, why am I reserving this fish liquid again?" I read and re-read the recipe, convinced I was missing something, but no. It tells you to reserve the liquid, then there is no further instruction about what to do with it. Clearly they're just messing with me.

When all the ingredients were combined, I spooned the mixture into a wet bowl, and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours. It set quite well, and I din't have too much trouble when it came to getting it out of the bowl. The final flourish is to "garnish with cucumber". Hmm. I cut a few cucumber slices and placed them around the sides, but it looked more silly than decorative. I guess there's a reason people used to do this in the fancy moulds - it's a bit boring-looking otherwise!

The suggested accompaniments were salad and Melba toast, but since I was hungry and wasn't about to bother with that Melba toast palaver again, I just had it with ordinary toast. It was ok. Nothing to write home about, just sort of a creamy, oniony fish paste. Disappointing, really: I was hoping to be able to either highly recommend it or roundly denounce it as disgusting, but luncheon salmon mould has foiled both these objectives by being blandly mediocre. Oh well, can't win 'em all!

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