Today I realized that it has been a year since my visit to The French Laundry. Our evening at TFL will always be one of the highlights of my life – everything about it was just so perfect. Thomas Keller’s standards are incredibly high so, in some ways, it is almost pointless to re-create his dishes at home as they are so perfect, yet that didn’t stop me from attempting to re-create his famous “Salmon Cornets” recipe. These are served at both Per Se and The French Laundry as a prelude to the meal and are served like miniature ice cream cones. I wasn’t brave enough to attempt to make the cornets as I had read that it is finger-burning work but, thankfully, there is a cheaters version of the recipe – crisps! Rather than making gorgeous, perfect cornets, you can cook them flat and serve them as crackers.
I thought that making the crisps would be much simpler than it was but I have since found this blog, French Laundry at Home, which gives a really detailed description on how to make the cornets or crisps (I wish I had found this before I made mine!). I would highly recommend reading the post before you embark on this dish. The stencil would have been a HUGE help and there are some great tips, such as seasoning the salmon with salt (it was definitely needed) and adding red onion to the whisked creme fraîche, which would have added a bit of “oomph”. I found making the crisps to be quite challenging, perhaps because the recipe seems slightly off. The main red flag for me was that the recipe claims to make 3 dozen crisps but I found it only made about 15 (my sister also had the same issue when she made the same recipe). I just found this post on Zen Can Cook and the recipe looks more accurate than the one I used. Perhaps use that recipe instead of the one below. These would be absolutely perfect served at a dinner party as they are beautiful to look at, yummy to eat, and easy to make prior to the dinner (just don’t assemble until you are about to serve).
Thomas Keller’s Salmon Crisps
4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 chilled large egg white
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (I used white ones)
4 oz (120g) of salmon, preferably sushi grade, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped chives, plus a few snipped for garnish
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon
Freshly ground white pepper and a sprinkle of salt
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Preheat the oven to 400F (I recommend lowering it to 380F). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt. (I found that my KitchenAid Mixer was handy for this). Add the egg white and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter until smooth and creamy.
Spoon teaspoons of the batter 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and spread to 2-inch rounds (this is where the stencil would come in handy). Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake in the upper and middle third of the oven for about 15 minutes, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back, until the tuiles are golden and fragrant. Let cool flat.
In a medium bowl, combine the salmon with the shallot, chopped chives, lemon zest, squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of white pepper and salt. Spoon the salmon onto the tuiles and top with a dollop of slightly whisked crème fraîche and a couple of snipped chives. Serve immediately.
Recipe from foodandwine.com. All italics are personal suggestions.