From “The Way to Cook,” by Julia Child. For about four cups, or four-dozen quenelles.
1# or 2 C skinned, boneless white fish, such as flounder, halibut, sea bass, or shellfish such as scallops or shrimp, separately or in combination
1 large egg
½ to 1 C heavy cream, as needed
1 t salt
½ t white pepper
½ t nutmeg
1 T cognac
1 C breadcrumbs from fresh white bread, as needed
Cut fish into chunks and drop into food processor, along with egg, seasoning, brandy and ½ C cream. Process until smooth. Consistency should be similar to mashed potatoes, but mousse should hold its shape. Add cream 1 T at a time if mousse is too thick or breadcrumbs (or more seafood) ¼ C at a time if it is too thin. Mousse at this point can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. It will keep in the refrigerator approximately 10 days and in the freezer about 30 days.
To make the quenelles:
1 recipe of fish mousse, well chilled
3 T butter
½ C dry vermouth
1 C tomato sauce
¼ to 1/3 C heavy cream
chopped parsley for garnish
Fill a large pan with water and add ½ t salt; bring to a boil over high heat. While water is heating, remove fish mousse from the refrigerator. Fill a jar with ice-cold water and place in the water a metal soup spoon. When water is at a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium high, and begin forming quenelles. Remove the soup spoon from the water and dip it into the fish mousse, bringing up a rounded glob the shape of the spoon. Slip the quenelle into the water and repeat. If mousse begins to stick to the spoon, re-wet in the icy water and continue. The quenelles will float in the water as they cook; the water should be kept at a gentle boil. The quenelles are done when they roll over easily and hold their shape reliably. Remove quenelles when they are done and drain on paper towels. Cook in batches until all the fish mousse is used up. Cooked quenelles will keep in the refrigerator for 10 days and in the freezer for 30 days.
In a large pan, melt the 3 T butter until bubbling and add the cooked quenelles, sautéing gently until you see they have begun to color; flip and repeat on the other side. Meantime, in another saucepan, heat the tomato sauce and vermouth until bubbling; add enough cream to give the sauce a pale, attractive color, season to taste. Place two-three quenelles on each plate (for an appetizer) or a half-dozen (for a main course); pour tomato sauce over and round them; sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.