Proof of the (Seafood) Pudding

When you’re exploring the big, blue world of seafood as maniacally as I am, and you’re revelling in it as much as a dolphin in water (I’ve always thought of them as smiling all the time), you want to imagine outside of the square; think of it as extending the diameter to encompass as much thrill and what-may-at-first-be weirdness. Let’s go beyond the fish appetizer, seafood consommé, crustacean main, and talk about dessert.
Yes, dessert. More specifically, seafood dessert. Okay, now we know what the elephant in the (cyber?) room is called, but are you cringing still? Relax, we’re not dousing our salmon in sweetened cream yet (we’re dunking it in a white chocolate sauce instead), but how about a rich, creamy salmon cheesecake? Or a crab mousse? Or a prawn parfait?
Let’s take a moment to take it all in here, and then move on to the big reveal, actually a small caveat—we’re talking savoury seafood “desserts”. Yes, rich, utterly satisfying, perfectly good- looking dishes good enough to end a meal with. Or even be the meal. You know what ‘stressed’ spelt backwards is, right?
And since “Life is short, eat dessert first” is such a common (and inadvertently morbid) reminder, it’s befitting to have a dessert for entree or mains. It just makes the grind better; easier to deal with, life is a little more liveable.
Salmon Cheesecake
This salmon cheesecake uses actual salty cheese, both in the crust as well as the filling.
A good cheesecake starts with a good crust; in this case, it’s an easy one with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan. The cheese is, of course, the heart of the dish, and since we’re talking about a savoury cheesecake here, we can actually use a combination of salty cheeses in addition to the neutral cream cheese or mascarpone and eggs that hold it all together. This recipe calls for Jarlsberg, you could easily sub gruyere. Smoked salmon or lox (salt-cured salmon) could be used, although the lox doesn’t impart that smooth, buttery smokiness that smoked salmon does. Like with any baked cake, it’s important to use eggs, and in this case, cheese and cream that are at room temperature, that’ll help curb the cake cracking during baking. 
This recipe is best served slightly warm or at room temperature after resting it overnight in the refrigerator, but nobody will judge you if you can’t wait that long.
Tilapia Mousse
This savoury mousse of Asian origin can be put together easily.
Since mousse is a French term that means “froth” or “foam” (that explains hair mousse), this could be either sweet or savoury. Dessert mousses, especially with chocolate and fruit, are all-too popular, and while savoury mousses are not unheard of, it’s time to give fish mousse its due. This steamed fish mousse comes from a book about the fish dishes of Laos, which explains the prominent Asian flavours of coconut cream, makroot leaf, shallot and lemongrass. Traditionally served in banana leaf cups, not unlike our own ‘pattal’ leaf cups here, this one lines the ramekins with banana leaves instead. And while these are ‘steamed’ in the oven, you can choose to make yours in a steamer, the traditional way.
Shrimp Parfait
Pretty enough to be served at your next dinner party, this dish is ‘parfait’ in a clear glass.
If you are one of those now-commonly-found people who don’t have a sweet tooth, then this dish is a Hail Mary; you don’t have to lose out on complex layered creations, just because you’re not swayed by plump sweet cream pillows. Think of this prawn parfait as a deconstructed sushi with a touch of Tex-Mex, courtesy the peppers, sour cream and avocado. Served in a margarita glass, this works as a pretty entree. Since it can be assembled in advance and is served cold, it’s great for a dinner party when you’re set to impress. And since it’s deconstructed, it doesn’t require any sushi rolling skills; your 8-year old could assemble the prepared individual components. Don’t skip the sesame oil if you can help it; it adds a smoky depth that’s almost irreplaceable. 
Crabmeat Beignets
Crabmeat Beignets have Louisiana written all over them, inside out.
While this version of beignet will never be found at the legendary—although some may say overhyped—Café du Monde in colourful New Orleans, it is no less happiness-inducing. Emeril Lagasse, the celebrity face of Creole and Cajun cuisine, combines luscious crabmeat with spices and a fritter mix. The batter meets hot oil, and the result is a tasty, crisp snack that is best served with another NOLA staple—remoulade sauce. Here’s a great recipe for the sauce, which is even better if prepared in advance, as it allows the flavours to meld. 
Norwegian Fish Pudding
The Norwegians love their fish, and this pudding is ample proof of that. 
Trust the Norwegians to come up with everything fish. Enveloped by water almost all around, the country has access to extensive reserves of different seafood that form an important part of its cuisine. The typical Norwegian pudding is called fiskegrot; the same fish, starch and cream mixture moulded into balls is called fiskeboller. This recipe presents the best of both; the base is a steamed pudding in a dish, while the garnish is small fish orbs poached in water. Served on the side is a creamy shrimp or lobster sauce, brimming with more seafood flavours of shellfish and fish stock. Like I said, the Norwegians love their fish. 
Smoked Salmon Crème Brûlée
Smoked Salmon Crème Brûlée is the definition of easy gourmet, and is sure to impress your dining guests.
The literal meaning of crème brûlée—burnt cream—may be taken to be a sweet or savoury dish. Of course, the torched sugar on top that becomes the signature crust may hint at the dessert character, but, as this recipe shows, that can just be a diversion. And since it’s a caramelised shell, the sugar doesn’t announce its presence as a shrill sweet note; it rather adds texture to the unctuous satin of the salmon cream beneath. On top of the hard caramel lie a smear of cream cheese, chopped dill, bits of smoked salmon and caviar. Skip the last if you have to; the dish is still restaurant-quality, one that a lot of connoisseurs will pay well for. 
Haddock and Watercress (Custard) Tart
This Nigel Slater recipe makes for a great first course, but is even better as mains with a side of dressed lettuces.
At first glance, this may seem like the contents of an English tea decided to marry each other. A finger sandwich proposed to an egg tart, the tart accepted (without being much of a tease, surprisingly), and together they produced this lovely offspring that inherited the best qualities of both parents. A buttery shortcrust pastry is filled with a custardy mix of flaked smoked haddock, onion and celery béchamel, eggs and watercress. Topped with Parmesan, this is baked for 25 minutes, until the top shows a shiny, brown crust. Nigel Slater says he serves this as main course with a side of a simple green salad, and you should listen to him. He makes this elegant meal sound so easy.
Salmon with White Chocolate Sauce

At first look, this may look like a regular salmon in white sauce, but the white sauce has a surprise white ingredient. 
Here, finally, is a dish which uses an actual dessert component—white chocolate. Unsurprisingly, it is shared by a site that is all about the cacao plant; from cultivation to manufacture of cocoa and chocolate, complete with recipes. This recipe cleverly uses lemon and green peppercorns, and savoury fish broth to tame the sweetness of the white chocolate, which lends its smoothness well to the sauce. Pieces of fatty salmon fillets are cooked in butter, then topped with the velvety sauce that is thickened with a roux. Served over steamed asparagus spears with a side of rice, this is a top-notch creation that pushes the envelope, while still being easy enough to put together. Gary, George and Matt would surely approve.
If you manage to try any of these, and you know you want to, let us know in the comments below. We would definitely want to feature you.

About the Author
An incorrigible gastronome, Rupika V is on a perpetual quest to find the best food around, and will happily travel far to find it.

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