Steamed Fish Mousse

Our recipe for this Thai-influenced dish is based on one that appears in Alan Davidson's Fish and Fish Dishes of Laos (Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1975). Traditionally served as a snack, this fish mousse is steamed in intricately folded banana leaf cups; we've modified that method slightly and cooked the mousse in ceramic ramekins lined with banana leaves.

Steamed Fish Mousse
Traditionally served as a snack, this fish mousse is steamed in intricately folded banana leaf cups.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless tilapia filets, cut into 1⁄4" pieces and chilled
  • 1 12 cups canned coconut cream, chilled
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, 3 finely chopped, 1 julienned
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layers discarded, tender interior layers finely chopped
  • 2 large frozen banana leaves, thawed and wiped with a damp towel
  • 1 tsp. finely grated carrot (optional)
  • 12 tsp. finely minced chives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350° and place a rack in the middle of the oven. In a food processor, combine tilapia, coconut cream, fish sauce, salt, pepper, chopped lime leaves, eggs, shallots, and lemongrass. Process until very smooth, 1–2 minutes. (For an even smoother mousse, use a rubber spatula to scrape the fish mixture through a fine sieve.) Set mousse aside.
  2. Lay the banana leaves out on a surface and use scissors to cut out 4 circles, each 6" in diameter. Place a banana leaf circle, shiny side down, over each of four 8-oz. ramekins. Press circles into the bottom and up the sides of the ramekins so that they are nestled snugly inside. Divide the fish mousse between the ramekins and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  3. Place ramekins in an 8" x 8" baking pan; pour boiling water into the pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake until mousse is set and begins to pull away from banana leaves, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove baking pan from oven; let ramekins rest in the warm water for 20 minutes. Remove ramekins from water and serve warm, sprinkled with julienned lime leaves, carrots, and chives.