The fish aspic-jelly is healthy with lots of fish and vegetables, few calories in itself.
The fish aspic-jelly is a venerable culinary creation, with roots tracing back to the 10th century in Arabic cookbooks. Its presence in France emerged during the 13th century, while in Scandinavia, it graced tables and buffets as a popular cold dish from the 1930s through the 1980s. However, it experienced a decline in popularity in more recent times. Now, there’s an opportunity for this dish to reclaim its spotlight.
Beyond its historical significance, the fish aspic-jelly stands out as a healthy option, rich in fish and vegetables, and inherently low in calories. The customary accompaniments of remoulade and bread contribute to the calorie count, allowing you to control the overall intake. Consider the fish aspic-jelly on its own – a wholesome, low-calorie delight. The preparation is straightforward; patience is the key, especially as you wait for the aspic to firm up. This makes it an ideal dish to prepare a day in advance.
This recipe yields a delectable fish aspic-jelly serving four when paired with traditional accessories. If incorporated into a buffet, it becomes a delightful offering for a larger gathering.
350-400 g cod
150 g Surimi from fish (can be exchanged with 100 g more cod)
12-14 Scampi or large fresh shrimp
300-350 g assorted vegetables, peas, carrots and the like (finished frozen mixture goes well)
5-6 dl bright aspic gel or vegetarian gel. (Available in most grocery stores)
As an alternative to aspic: 5-6 gelatine leaves; and 5-6 dl with a light fish broth
- Begin by finely dicing all the vegetables unless you opt for frozen pre-cut ones.
- Trim only the tips of the asparagus, leaving them at a length of 2-3 cm.
- Proceed to cook the vegetables until thoroughly done but not overcooked. Immediately transfer them to ice-cold water to halt the cooking process. Drain the water and let the vegetables drip dry in a colander or sieve. Set them aside.
- Hard-boil the eggs and immerse them in ice-cold water until completely cooled. Peel the eggs and set them aside.
- Poach the cod in lightly salted water for 10-12 minutes. (Poaching involves letting the cod soak in freshly boiled water, removing the pan from direct heat in this case.) Ensure the cod is cooked through but retains its shape without dissolving.
- Prepare a suitable container that accommodates all the ingredients while allowing for the replenishment of as much gel as possible. I used a 21 x 10 x 6 cm bread tin, but you can use a larger or smaller one. The key is to fill the container with vegetables until it’s nearly full, then top it up with aspic jelly. Thus, it’s prudent to have enough vegetables to avoid discovering that the mould is too large when everything is ready. This prevents difficulties when turning the fish aspic-jelly onto a serving plate.
- Follow the instructions on the package(s) to boil the aspic jelly. I used a pack that yielded 5 dl and needed two packs as my filling required 6 dl. (Alternatively, boil fish broth and dissolve gelatine leaves in it.) Precision is challenging here as it depends on your ingredients and how space-efficient they are in relation to your mould.
- Apply a pleasing layer to the bottom. I halved the eggs and placed them cut side down. This arrangement allows for an attractive display of scampi/shrimps, and I recommend placing asparagus tops at the bottom. Keep in mind that the bottom becomes the top, showcasing the fish aspic-jelly.
- Optionally, pour a thin layer of aspic gel carefully and let it set for a more refined presentation, though it requires additional time. I opted not to do this, ensuring that the filling was tightly packed before carefully adding the aspic. While this method might have enhanced the presentation, I prefer a slightly rustic look for homemade food.
- Cover the fish aspic-jelly and refrigerate it for at least 3-4 hours, or prepare it the evening before for added convenience.
Served: Carefully immerse the mould in hot water, ensuring that no water enters the fish aspic-jelly itself. Avoid leaving it in hot water for too long, as excessive time can cause the gel to melt completely. Employ a thin knife, spatula, or similar tool along the sides, applying gentle inward pressure. You’ll sense when it begins to loosen. Place a suitable serving dish or plate over the mould and promptly invert it onto the dish. Wipe off any watery gel that may have accumulated. Return it to the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
Served with loaf, as well as a good remoulade. See own recipe for a simple and quick remoulade: Remoulade sauce
Allergy: Gluten and lactose free. High FODMAP in green peas and asparagus. However, there are such small amounts per serving, that most people will tolerate this well. Under 12 g of asparagus and 45 g of peas.
Read more about the use of aspic and the history of aspic-jelly: Aspic
The fish aspic-jelly is related to the French terrine. See separate explanation on terrine: Terrine
What is surimi and similar products: Surimi