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arman’s caviar in aspic {ffwd}

Caviar in Aspic

Caviar is always a natural on New Year’s Eve, so I added this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe to our appetizer lineup for the night’s holiday dinner. I’d never had aspic, but I like both caviar and Jello, so as odd as this sounded, this had potential!

First, I made the aspic. I couldn’t find fish bouillon cubes anywhere. I had some clam stock concentrate in the fridge, but it was a bit old and I was reluctant to use it here, where the flavor could ruin a main component if it was off. However, given that I made several quarts of fish stock for last week’s simple Breton fish soup, I substituted fish stock for the water and just proceeded from there. I ended up with a loaf pan of thin but very sturdy aspic (or what I keep thinking of as fish jello). As I mentioned last week, the fish stock itself was thick and quivery, in other words, gelatinous, so I’m not sure whether this added to its firm structure.

To serve, I unmolded the aspic, cut it into squares, and, using a grapefruit spoon, carved out little dimples. I did this “right before serving”, as the recipe instructed, but I think I could have done this step an hour or so before serving and chilled until it was time to serve. I think I expected the aspic to be delicate and possibly to melt as it warmed to warm temperature, but it stayed firm even after sitting out for a while.

Finally, I spooned caviar into the divots and on top of the aspic squares and served.

For caviar, I used a jar of herring roe that we picked up at Ikea. They have quite an array of fishy products in the grocery section after you check out. We also bought some herring and a tube of salty fish roe paste. Yum to the fish paste (herring, not so much). I’m not sure this was the best choice. It was extremely salty and had a bit of an aftertaste. I think tobiko, which has similar tiny eggs, would have been a better choice, though I’m not sure where to find that other than the Japanese market. We also had salmon roe as part of another appetizer, and that caviar was much tastier, but I think the size of the eggs would have offered less contrast to the aspic.

Our guests and I thought it was good, a little strange, but not bad. I’m glad I tried it, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort. There are so many other ways I prefer to eat caviar.

To see what my Dorista friends thought of their caviar in aspic, check out their links here. You can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Stay tuned for more fishiness next week!