A first course with a serious wow
factor. Even though this terrine is labor-intensive, it's not as fussy and
last-minute as quenelles, and its ethereal texture rivals theirs. The salmon roe
adds sparkle and zing both on the plate and on the palate, but if you want to
take the terrine in a slightly different direction, use a small dice of
blanched, peeled carrot in its place. You'll get a delicate crunch instead of a
briny pop in the mouth.
1 1/4 lb skinless cod, scrod, or gray sole fillets, well chilled
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg white
2 cups chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
3 tablespoons salmon roe
Special equipment: a 4-cup terrine mold or loaf pan; a tamis (drum sieve) with
30 to 40 holes per square centimeter*; a slightly flexible bowl scraper; a
kitchen scale; an offset spatula; an instant-read thermometer
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Oil terrine mold and
line bottom with a sheet of wax paper (cut to fit), then oil paper.
Remove any visible silver skin or sinew from fish and cut on either side of pin
bones until all pin bones have been removed, then cut fish into 1-inch pieces.
Purée fish with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg in a food processor until very
smooth. Add egg white and purée until incorporated, then transfer mixture to a
bowl set in a larger bowl of ice.
Set tamis, screen side up, over a
plate and work fish mixture through sieve about 2 tablespoons at a time with
scraper until all that remains is sinews. Continue to work fish through sieve,
scraping strained fish from underside of tamis from time to time and
transferring to a large bowl set in another bowl of ice.
Weigh strained fish to determine
equal amount of cream (1 cup cream weighs 8 ounces). Then, keeping fish mixture
over ice, stir cream into fish mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, with a large
rubber spatula until all cream is incorporated.
Transfer one fourth of mixture to a
small bowl and stir in dill. Gently fold salmon roe into remaining fish mixture.
Spread about two thirds of roe
mixture in terrine and create a wide trough lengthwise along the middle with
back of a spoon. Fill trough with dill mixture, mounding it slightly and
smoothing surface. Cover with remaining roe mixture and rap mold firmly on
counter to compact terrine. Smooth top with offset spatula and cover surface
with an oiled sheet of wax paper (oiled side down).
Bake in a water bath until terrine
is firm to the touch and separates easily from sides of mold and thermometer
inserted diagonally through paper into center of terrine registers 110 to 120°F
(a metal skewer or thin knife plunged to bottom of terrine for 5 seconds and
removed will feel hot), 40 to 45 minutes.
Transfer terrine in mold to a rack
and let cool 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding.
To unmold, remove wax paper and run
a thin knife around inside edge of mold. Invert a cutting board or serving dish
over terrine, then reinvert and remove mold and wax paper, blotting any excess
liquid. Cut terrine into slices with a sharp knife, supporting each slice as cut
with a flat metal spatula and transferring as cut to small plates.
Terrine may be assembled, but not baked, 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Makes 8 servings.