This is a recipe which has been worked on and worked on. The first few times I trialed it (and others also trialed it) it worked perfectly, but subsequent attempts resulted in a damn good taste, but a rather too liquid consistency.
This presented a problem. The obvious solution is to incorporate some gelatine…but, gelatine reacts unpredictably with cream (see The Low-down on Gelatine) so I have sought to try to solve the challenge in a different way.
Partly inspired by the original Snaffles mousse
One source of inspiration was an old favourite – a famous late sixties, early seventies starter known as Snaffles Mousse. This was an impressive, instant starter, invented by Nicholas Tinné, the owner of the eponymous restaurant which was in Dublin. Effectively in those heady days all you had to do was to whip up a tin of Campbell’s beef consommé with some Philadelphia cream cheese, add a little curry powder, and Voilá! Curiously the resultant mousse had an elegant, slightly fishy taste, so often I would make a virtue out of the necessity and crown the confection with a gloriously extravagant king prawn.
“This has been variously described by people who did not know what it contained as a ‘creamy froth of smoked fish’….’seafood, probably mainly lobster or crab, very light and airy, exquisite and unobtrusive’”
-Hilary Fawcett and Jeanne Strang, The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book
But sadly my stalwart, reliable recipe also began to let me down. Originally, Campbell’s beef consommé contained gelatine, enabling the mousse to set. Then, they took reduced the gelatine content and the result became looser and looser. It became harder and harder to find. And then supplies in Europe dried up altogether.
Recreating Snaffles Mousse
To find out how to recreate this iconic mousse, go to one of my very favourite blogs, Luke Honey’s The Greasy Spoon, if I could write with the gay abandon, apparently effortless, of Mr Aitch, I would be very happy!
This mousse is stiff thanks to the cream cheese, and no thanks to the cucumber (which I think was what did for me in the previous incarnations). But that’s fine – the cream cheese can stand up to the cucumber these days.
I’ve also added in the curry powder, which gives it a bit of character…. a bit of je-ne-sais-pas.
It’s now definitely a keeper.
This elegant starter will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
Recipe for curried prawn and cucumber mousse
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
- 200g/7 oz smoked salmon
- 240 ml/1 cup double cream
- 200g/7 oz full fat cream cheese (Philadelphia comes in 180g tubs, but most supermarkets will sell their own brand in larger tubs)
- 250g/9 oz frozen cooked prawns – defrosted
Salt and pepper
- 6-8 extravagant King prawns
- Juice and zest of a lemon
- 1 tsp mild curry powder
- Toast to serve
- Zest the lemon, and add to the defrosted prawns.
- Put the lemon juice and the salmon together in a magimix and blend. Add the cream cheese, blend a bit more. Slowly pour in the double cream. Season. Add the curry powder. Mix again.
- Divide the cucumber slices into however many you are serving, and then divide each pile in two. Use half of each pile to line the bottom of each individual glass bowl with the cucumber slices. Spoon over a couple of serving spoons of the smoked salmon mix, a couple of spoonfuls of prawns, a couple more spoonfuls of smoked salmon mix, and few more prawns, the other half of the pile of cucumber, and top with an extravagant king prawn.
- Serve with toast (and some might want butter).
Follow this link for other prawn recipes on Saucy Dressings.