julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Salmon Chanted Evening


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“Souffles are tricky on a diet.  They fool you.  You take a bite of a delicious salmon soufflé, perfectly browned, light and puffy, and you can’t help thinking, against all your experience and judgement, ‘Oh, this couldn’t be bad.  This is like eating yummy, moist air.’ Then before you know it, you’ve eaten half a soufflé.” – Julie Powell

When it comes to a low maintenance dinner recipe, nothing beats a soufflé. For something different, I thought I’d give Julia’s Souffle de Saumon (salmon soufflé) a try. The fact that you have the option of using cooked salmon or canned salmon makes this already-simple recipe even easier.

The tomato paste gives it a nice color.

I started by buttering my soufflé mold and sprinkling the inside with a tablespoon of grated Swiss cheese (this step is pretty standard with any of Julia’s soufflés). While the oven preheated to 400 degrees, I cooked some minced shallots in butter on the stove, adding about three tablespoons of flour when they were tender. After a couple of minutes, I turned off the heat and beat in a cup of boiling milk (with the juice from the canned salmon). Also into the pan went salt/pepper, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and some herbs. I brought the mixture to a boil and watched as it began to thicken and turn a beautiful red color. Once it was well-blended, I took the pan off the heat and beat four egg yolks into the mix (one at a time…let’s not get too crazy!). Finally I added a can of salmon, using a fork to break up the meat. Having never used canned salmon before, I was surprised by how much it smelled like canned tuna. I apparently wasn’t the only one to make this comparison, considering the can hadn’t been open for longer than a minute before two little cats were at my feet to investigate the situation. I added in about ½ cup of shredded Swiss cheese and turned my attention to the key to a good soufflé…stiffened egg whites that make a soufflé so light and airy.

Folding the egg whites into the salmon mixture. See how important fluffiness is?

I beat five egg whites in a separate bowl with an electric mixer until they formed stiff peaks (be patient – the results are worth the wait!), and then folded a quarter of them into the salmon mixture. I then folded the rest of the eggs in (being careful not to over-mix…you don’t want the eggs to get worn out, but rather to keep their fluffiness) and then turned the whole thing into the soufflé mold. I sprinkled the remaining tablespoon of shredded cheese over the top and set the mold in the middle of the oven, turning the heat down to 375 and letting it bake for about a half-hour.

My favorite part about a soufflé is taking it out of the oven and seeing it in all of its risen, puffy glory. The honeymoon is over pretty quickly, though, as it isn’t long before it begins to settle and sink a bit. Oh, well – they always taste good! This soufflé looked great, and like all of Julia’s soufflés so far, it was very tasty. I was surprised, however, to discover that my nose hadn’t deceived me – in addition to the smells, the flavor of this dish also reminded me of tuna. I wonder if this would be different had I used fresh, cooked salmon rather than the canned stuff…but that would have dirtied another dish and been even more work, so I don’t regret my (JC-approved) shortcut decision.

Salmon souffle, anyone?

All in all, this wasn’t a bad dish. It wasn’t my favorite soufflé to date, but it was good and, even more important, it was super easy. Next time I might use one of Julia’s suggested variations – in place of the salmon, you could use tuna (go figure), ground cooked lobster or ground cooked chicken. I think any of those options sound pretty good! What would you try?

Stay hungry!
– Jessica

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2 Responses to “Salmon Chanted Evening”

  1. Debbie Landsiedel says:

    Hi! It’s so exciting to find a recipe so quickly, so well described without having to enter my life history and agree to yet another toolbar!
    We got some cured smoked salmon to include for our New Year’s meal of Lobster tail and Prime rib roast with Yorkshire pudding. My husband said, “I think I’d like to try making a soufflé. How about a salmon soufflé? Can you find a recipe, if you have a chance…” So, typing in “Salmon Soufflé” in my Bing search bar, there you were! Now you have to realize, I am the ‘classically trained’ sort, read-1993 Food Network foodie “BE”, (Before Emril), but always Julia and Jacque influenced. I do also admit to starting to really cook at age 40, with the help of the Frugal Gourmet and all of the above.
    Questions: Can we use a bundt pan instead of the soufflé pan?
    What and how much of the herbs did you use?
    Thanks for any suggestions, your new friend, Debbie in Ocean City, NJ.

  2. Chris says:

    Mom made a salmon soufflé seasoned with caraway seeds. I have been looking for something to start with. Thank you!

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