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May 24, 2011
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Wine With . . . Cold Salmon Terrine

by Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas


Seafood terrines may be less popular than they once were, but they definitely deserve to be rediscovered by all of us.  They are a perfect summer meal, relatively easy to prepare and, like most chilled dishes, wonderfully refreshing in warm weather.  The fact that they can be made ahead of time--early in the day, before temperatures soar—is another distinct advantage.   Almost any kind of fish can be incorporated into the basic recipe, including basic white fish such as sole or turbot, as well as shrimp and/or scallops.  Many classic seafood terrines were made with gelatin, but the texture of gelatin-based fare has fallen out of favor.  The loaf style recipe we like seems a lighter and more contemporary variation on the theme.  Serve the dish on its own, or with crisp leafy greens or other summery salads.


Cold Salmon Terrine

(Serves six to eight as a first course, four to six as a main course.)


2 pounds fresh salmon (skin removed)

2 teaspoons minced basil

2 teaspoons minced preserved lemon or fresh lemon zest

2-3 sprigs fresh dill

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons capers

6 scallions, chopped

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 cup heavy cream

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon cayenne



Preheat oven to 350°.  Place the salmon on a rack in a steamer or other pot with a few inches of water at the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle the basil and preserved lemon or lemon zest over the fish, and lay the dill and rosemary on top of it.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the fish is almost cooked through, but still slightly underdone in the middle.   Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed together.  Add the salmon, broken up into chunks, and pulse until the fish is well blended but not over-processed.  Pour the contents into a well-greased 9” x 5” loaf pan or similar oven-proof baking dish.  Bake for about 40 minutes, then test to see if it is cooked through (if not, continue cooking until it is done, but do not over-bake).  Refrigerate the terrine several hours or overnight.   Cut into slices and serve with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce.


Cucumber Yogurt Sauce


1 English cucumber

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups unflavored yogurt, preferably Greek

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely minced dill

4 scallions, finely sliced

Minced parsley (optional)


Peel the cucumber and grate it (a box grater works well); you should have about 2 cups cucumber in all.  Place the cucumber in a fine-meshed strainer, add the salt, and leave it over a large bowl to drain for 30 minutes or so.  Give the shredded cucumber a good squeeze to release as much liquid as possible.   Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and dill.  Stir in the scallions and cucumber. Garnish with minced parsley if desired.


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The appeal of this dish comes from its tasting refreshing, so whatever wine you choose needs to do the same.  This poses a bit of a challenge, since the terrine also is quite rich.  Light delicate wines run the risk of being overwhelmed by it.  At the same time, though, heavier wines can seem ponderous.  We found that the best choices were those in the proverbial middle, with forceful fruit flavors and little or no evidence of oak.  (Overt woodiness can make the terrine taste too fishy.)  For the most part, we preferred the white wines we tried, but the Pinot Noir we are recommending worked surprisingly well.  On a hot day, you could even serve it slightly chilled. 





Approx. Price



Cadaretta, Columbia Valley ( Washington ) “SBS” 2009





A blend of 78% Sauvignon Blanc and 22% Semillon, this medium-weight wine offers seductive citrus fruit flavors, with hints of something tropical to add intrigue.  Long and layered, it is a rich expression of these two grapes, and so matched the rich texture of the terrine well.    




J Vineyards, Russian River Valley ( California ) Pinot Noir 2008





Fresh and fruity, with flavors resembling ripe cherries, and echoes of sweet spice in the finish, this wine definitely has the heft to hold its own with the salmon.  It may seem a little heavy, but serving it at a cool temperature will solve the problem.




Mount Nelson, Marlborough ( New Zealand ) Sauvignon Blanc 2010

(Imported by Wilson Daniels Ltd.)






Though delicately textured, this Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc has such vibrant grapefruit-like flavors that it in no sense was overmatched by the dish.  It complemented the cucumber yogurt sauce especially well,




Robert Oatley, Mudgee ( Australia ) Rosé of Sangiovese 2010

(Imported by Robert Oatley Vineyards)





Genuinely dry, with vibrant red berry flavors, this Aussie rosé proved very satisfying with the terrine.  It has just the right body and texture to make a harmonious pairing.




Segura Viudas, Cava ( Spain ) Brut Reserva “Heredad” NV

(Imported by Freixenet USA )





Dry and almost austere, with lemony flavors and echoes of dried grass or herbs in the finish, this Cava offered a satisfying contrast to the rich dish.  It did not so much echo the terrine’s flavors as provide a foil for them.