No shade to the 1970s pureed mayonnaise, cream, and fish mousse, but in order to get attendees of the average party in the year 2019 interested, changes had to be made. Out with the massive quantity of gelatin. Out with the cold, overcooked fish base that’s been pureed into oblivion. On the other hand, there are plenty of elements to the original fish mold that deserve another chance. Think of Jewish delis and bagel shops, where the creamy-dip-and-fish combination is celebrated, and mix up this creamy smoked salmon dip, tethered with cream cheese and sour cream. You can make this dish in a bowl, but a real fish mold is just so much more handsome.
- Spray a 32-ounce fish mold or bowl with nonstick cooking spray, or grease well with a bit of neutral oil. Line the mold with plastic wrap with as few creases as possible, leaving a bit of an overhang.
- In a large bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese, sour cream, paprika, salt, and cayenne.
- In a small bowl, whisk gelatin into boiling water until completely dissolved. Mix in shallots. Let cool for no more than 5 minutes, then whisk gelatin mixture into cream cheese mixture.
- Fold in salmon, scallions, dill, capers, and preserved lemon. Taste, and season with more salt if needed.
- Spread mixture into prepared fish mold or bowl and cover with overhanging plastic wrap (use more to cover any exposed areas). Depending on the size of your mold, you may have a ¼-½ cup or so of extra dip—eat it now or make a second mold in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until set (up to overnight), then unmold onto a platter.
- Use sliced lemon, cucumber, radish, and remaining capers to decorate in a fishy fashion. Serve with sliced vegetables and desired bread products.
Rebecca Firkser is a New York City-based food writer and cook. Most recently the Culinary Editor at Extra Crispy, Rebecca’s byline has appeared in number of publications, among them Food52, Tasting Table, and Healthyish by Bon Appetit.