Wild-Caught Schmears, Dips and Mousse


Cooking + Recipes

Working with Seafood that Spreads

Smoked salmon, whether smoked or cooked, is a classic ingredient to use in spreads that span the culinary genres of breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon treats, dinner and even midnight snacks. But a variety of wild-caught fish can be used as the substance of schmears, dips and mousses to up your spread game and keep things interesting. 

Here are some recipe ideas for yummy spreads, depending on how much time you have put things together: 

When You Don’t Want to Cook

For a dairy-free spread, this simple smoked salmon mousse from Le Petit Eats gets its creaminess from a vegan cream cheese alternative and non-dairy creamer. You won’t need any gelatin to get this one whipped into shape. Process the ingredients together until smooth, then serve either as suggested with fresh slices of cucumber or alongside crisp crackers. 

This easy salmon-scallion dip from Eating Well is essentially a no-cook dish, as it has you using leftover salmon that’s been cooked and seasoned already. All you have to do is flake up your salmon, chop a couple of things, then combine with a creamy base of cream cheese and mayo. The dip comes together in under 10 minutes, and can be tweaked to your liking: You can top with your favorite furikake blend for some texture and Japanese flavors, or incorporate the fresh flavor of dill with a handful of fronds.

For a hefty spread, use meaty halibut to make this recipe from Delishably. You’re using leftover halibut here, so this spread is a no-cook dish as well, requiring you to simply shred your fillet, finely chop a few other basic ingredients, then mix with mayo. 

When You Can Spend a Time at the Stove

While many recipes for salmon rillettes integrate hot smoked salmon into the spread, Bon Appetit’s recipe calls for a mix of cold smoked and poached salmon to get you that balance of meatiness texture and salty-smoky flavor. The fresh salmon fillet is cooked in a wine-shallot poaching liquid before simply being combined with the remaining ingredients, ready to serve immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to a day.

An elevated take on a classic smoked salmon schmear, The Kitchn’s recipe is cream cheese based but is enhanced with the sour richness of crème fraîche, buttery and sweet sauteed shallots sauteed, balanced with bright lemon zest and herbaceous dill. While the recipe calls for smoked salmon, feel free to substitute home-cured salmon if you prefer. 

Indulgent by design, this baked white fish dip — cod is the fish of choice, in this recipe from Food & Wine — is topped with breadcrumbs seasoned with parmesan, parsley, and chives, which crown the creamy dish with a golden brown crust. Using a bit of smoked sea salt to season the crust, if you have it in your pantry, gives the entire dip that extra level of savory umami. As for the body of the dip, it incorporates artichoke hearts to complement succulent bits of cod in a rich gruyere cream base. 

When You’ve Got Days to Wait for Salt Cod

Making salt cod only requires two ingredients and some time, but you may need a few tries to figure out just when to pull the fillets from the salt and how thorough you need to be when rinsing off the cod afterward. Follow Saveurs step-by-step recipe here to make it the traditional Portuguese way, then make it into this rich, whipped brandade from Serious Eats

Also made with salt cod, this recipe from Marc Forgione transforms a tasty fillet of cod into a tonnato-like sauce that you can use as a dip for crunchy veggies and crackers. You’ll be poaching the salt cod in olive oil, infusing it with the flavor of aromatic herbs and allowing it to develop a velvety texture, before pureeing it with the rest of your ingredients. 

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