Making Treasure from Trash: Hot Salmon Rillettes!

Salmon rillettes recipe

These luscious salmon rillettes are perfect for a dinner or cocktail party. This soft, salmon spread or dip is very simple to make and even better is that it costs next to nothing to make thanks to a smart buy that you can make at the fishmongers!

Have you ever visited the fish market and noticed bags of salmon offcuts? Whilst salmon fillets cost around $40 a kilo, a 2 kilo bag of salmon offcuts was a mere $4. The salmon is perfectly good, they're just the remnants from filleting salmon and because most people prefer buying pristine fillets the other bits are sold at an absolute steal.

Salmon rillettes recipe

A lot of people eat salmon for health benefits and these offcuts hold a treasure trove of omega 3's. When I got home I was delighted to see 2 salmon heads (there is a surprising amount of meat on these and the cheeks are divine, much like chicken oysters) and I roasted them. But then I had a whole lot of pieces that looked like a jumble sale, there were fins and bones with meat on them. I could have made a stock but there was enough meat on them to prompt me to make something more substantial out of them.

And then the idea of salmon rillettes came to me because I had people coming over. I surveyed my fridge, saw a small amount of sour cream and I decided to try making hot salmon rillettes. Rillettes are usually made with pork meat mixed with fat. Here the fat is part of the salmon that you retrieve from the cooked offcuts and you can also process it so that it is more spreadable. I liked having a bit of the visible salmon meat in it but it's all a personal preference. I think that if you serve it cold, it's perhaps best blended up to a pate texture.

Salmon rillettes recipe

Mr NQN always has a chuckle with me because while I have dramatic moments of extravagance, I also have moments of frugality. Nina and I went shoe shopping recently and we both fell in love with the same pair of shoes. It was the middle of winter and these shoes were the perfect shoe to wear with opaque stockings. But given that most of the store was on sale and they weren't we looked at each other. "Maybe we should wait for them to go on sale," we agreed. So we waited. And waited.

Even budget minded Queen Viv laughed, "Why don't you just buy them?" she asked. "I'm not sure but it's now spring so while I want them, I can justify buying them even less!" I said to her.

And yep they're still not on sale...

So tell me Dear Reader, do you love something but then wait for it to go on sale? Are you an extravagant shopper or a frugal one? Have you ever bought meat or fish offcuts?

Hot Salmon Rillettes

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 40 minutes (mostly taking the salmon off the bone, this will be less if you use salmon fillets)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 1 bag of salmon offcuts (about 1 kilo or trimmings nets you around 500g of salmon once taken off the bone)
  • 50g/1.7ozs. butter
  • 4 sticks of spring onion, finely chopped and white and green separated
  • 1 lemon, finely zested
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • Smoked salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (or to taste)

Salmon rillettes recipe

Step 1 - I had about 1 kilo of salmon offcuts not including the heads. Place the offcuts in a wide saucepan and cover with water and bring to a gentle simmer with 3 slices of lemon. Simmer for 5 or so minutes until cooked through. You can keep the water for soup but you won't need it any more.

Step 2 - Let the salmon pieces cool for a few minutes and then remove the flesh. You won't need the skin for this recipe but you can use the white fatty flesh (which is so luscious) as well as some of the fat. Remove all the bones. Try and remove as many bones as you can.

Salmon rillettes recipe

Step 3 - Heat the butter and saute the white part of the spring onion on medium heat for a few minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and then add the fish and the green onions and stir (you'll probably come across some of the salmon bones then too). Add sour cream and season. Serve hot, warm or cold. It's good all ways.

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