ffwd: fish and spinach roulades

Fish and Spinach Roulades

It’s been a tense week since the tragic events on Monday. We know people who were in the area of the Marathon’s finish line minutes, or seconds, before the bombs went off, though everyone I know is safe. I hope that everyone you know is safe as well. Let’s all keep the victims and their families in our thoughts as they face the long road of healing of them.

As I sit here writing this post, I’m riveted to the radio as the latest news about the Boston Marathon bomber manhunt unfolds. I live in a town that borders several of those that are “locked down” and have settled in for a day at home. Our workplaces are closed (though I’m not working today anyway), and it all just seems surreal.

Many thanks to those of you who reached out to check on me. It makes the world feel like a smaller and nicer place than it often seems to be.

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie gave me a project to distract me. When I’m stressed, I like to cook, and make a big mess. Fish and spinach roulades filled the bill for that. I don’t think I read the recipe beyond the title before I made my grocery list. I had envisioned something along the lines of fish fillets rolled up around a spinach filling. I was wrong about that. It was much more sophisticated.

First, I noticed the filling used preserved lemons. I’ve always meant to make them myself, but you need to plan about a month in advance. Tuesday was too late. Fortunately, I’ve had good luck with Mark Bittman’s Quick Preserved Lemon, ready in just 3 hours, so I made two lemons’ worth, some for this recipe, and some for later. The filling is made from baby spinach wilted with sautéed onion and garlic and then mixed with preserved lemon.

Filling Ingredients

The fish wasn’t whole fillets at all. It’s a mousse-y mixture of fish, egg whites, and heavy cream, like a quenelle (though I’ve never had one). The recipe called for cod, but I went for pollack instead (sort of cannibalistic as that is my last name), which is a white-fleshed fish but less expensive. The ingredients are pureed in the food processor to make a sticky paste.


Then the fun begins. The roulades were like a craft project. First, you lay out a piece of plastic wrap. Then you spread the fish paste into a rectangle. Center a strip of filling on top of the fish, and then roll into a sausage. Finally, you wrap the roulades in the plastic and twist the ends to tighten. After I was done, I realized that using a bamboo sushi mat would have made this even easier. To cook, the roulades are steamed for ten minutes. Then you remove the wrap, slice and serve.


Tomatoes aren’t in season, so I wasn’t tempted by the suggested optional sauce. Instead, I used the two egg yolks and made rouille, a red-pepper spiked aioli. It was sort of thick, but tasted good with the fish roulade.

Dorie suggested cut these into a fan shape, so I tried that, but I think slices would be prettier. I served my roulades around a large dollop of rouille and then dotted with pesto.

These were good, but I’m not sure I would make them again. I had one roulade for dinner, but I think they would make a better starter or light lunch. Leftovers for lunch!

You can find the recipe for these roulades in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To read about the other Doristas’ roulades, follow their links here.

Keep yourselves safe this weekend!


Posted on 19 April 2013, in Boston, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I have CNN playing in the background even as I type this. My heart is tight and I pray that this ends soon with no more loss of life. Please stay safe and I hope that FFwD is able to provide you with a respite today.

    By the way, I emailed you the spreadsheet. Feel free to use it as you like.

  2. Stay safe! I can’t believe everything going on stateside. I hope it ends soon, and without any additional horrors. I like the sound of your rouille.

  3. Stay safe, my friend.

    This was a craft project! I like the way you fanned yours out.

    I wish I had remembered the quick preserved lemon. I still had a couple of bags of tomatoes in the freezer from last summer’s CSA bounty (which I am trying to work off before it starts back up in June) – perfect for a quick sauce like this. If I had to buy them from the store, I probably would not have been very interested in the sauce either.

  4. These look great – well done. Stay safe xo

  5. I’m so glad to hear you are safe. We keep watching the news from here; it is so tragic.

    I agree, I find cooking (especially recipes like this one with multiple steps) very calming at times like this. It’s so helpful to have something to focus on. I’m glad you liked this, even if it wasn’t your favorite.

  6. Helyn Benjamin

    Hi. Looks good. Glad you are all safe. Such heartache and tragedy. Keep on cooking. Xxxxxxx

    Sent from my iPad

  7. I live in the NY area and they actually hung a banner outside Yankee Stadium with both the Yankees and the Red Soxs symbols that say, “United We Stand.” I never thought I see something like that… I’m so glad your friends are all right, but this is painful and frightening. I hope they catch the man soon.
    In a way this dish was perfect for you… incredibly engrossing, I hope it distracted you well. My thoughts are with you.

  8. Your roulades look lovely with the sauce and pesto – I was to lazy for that. Stay safe Betsy.

  9. Hi, Betsy! I have been thinking about you and am so relieved that you and Howard are safe. My heart goes out to everyone there. I’m glad that you had this as a distraction while being home today and love how you arranged it on your plate. I just did not find this recipe appealing and knew John probably wouldn’t touch it even though he likes fish. The technique looks interesting though. Take care and stay safe.

  10. Hi Betsy! Glad to hear that you and your family are safe. What a day it has been. Today is the 18th anniversary of the Murah Building Bombing in Oklahoma City. It is always a sad time in our city and to have the Marathon Bombing manhunt happening on the same day was surreal. These things really leave a mark on the psyche of a community. Wish we had some sort of wonderful dessert to blog about instead of fish mousse:)

  11. As I read your post last night, they had just captured the suspect. I am grateful that you and your family are safe. Watching the news on and off all day left such an uneasy feeling. So glad they took him alive, maybe we’ll find out WHY…why such hatred for the country that took you in, and why a promising student, who seemed to be liked by all, would turn on us, and who else is involved. My heart is always with Boston…one of my favorite cities!

    Ok, on to the Cod Roulades…yours is plated so beautifully and looks delicious!! I agree that these were surprisingly good…but I will probably never make them again. I like my fish baked or grilled!
    Have a great weekend, Betsy! Relax and enjoy!

  12. Cooking when the world is falling down around you; I do it myself. Glad to know that you and those you love are ok, so sad about the victims.
    Your pictures gave me an epiphany!!! We had to use perch as there was no cod to be found and that was totally the problem!! My mousse NEVER looked like yours in the photo. I may actually have to attempt this again.

  13. So glad the manhunt is over…and that no more innocent people will be hurt. Glad this recipe was a good distraction. Your roulades look so much sturdier than mine. And you actually were able to fan them! Brava!

  14. Your roulades turned out fantastic looking!

  15. Betsy, so very glad to read that you and all your friends and loved ones are safe – we followed the CNN news coverage for the longest time, the events unfolded right while we were watching…pure heart ache…but I am glad that the FFwD assignment did distract you somewhat. And I must say that your fish roulades look perfect and I love the idea to prepare a nice rouille alongside! So very well done – many hugs and thoughts from all of us here!!! And do stay safe and sound!!!
    P.S.: I added a picture of the leaves and flowers of the wild garlic and did a bit of research too regarding the herbs that you mentioned (hope that helps).

  16. These roulades may be a craft project for you, Betsy, but I am a crafter and fancy myself a pretty good crafter, and I made a mess of this recipe. But, you’re right, the spreading and rolling and getting it just right is where I fell apart. It’s “twicky” as little Clara says. I’ve used Mark’s recipe for preserved lemons also. I love that man. And, I do think that they are better cold and used in a salad. I am glad we touched base last night when this was all over……meaning the suspect being caught. It will never be over for all the people affected. I know that Boston will just wake up Monday morning, put on its best face and soldier on. What a city. These catastrophes are becoming too commonplace, aren’t they?

  17. Glad you were not in the midst of the mess there in Boston. What a crazy few days! I like that you said these were like a craft project. I concur! I couldn’t get mine to fan at all. Boo.

  18. So glad you are okay Betsy! It was such a weird and horrible week and I live far away from all the tragedy so I can’t imagine what things have been like for you. Your roulades look great – I chickened out and didn’t even attempt this one.

  19. I’m glad that you came through this okay. It was such a terrible event.

    Your roulades turned out well I made Bittman’s quick preserved lemons, too, and am having fun using up the leftovers.

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