Harriett’s Tuna Mousse and Cucumbers

Ever since …. ever … our family has been gobbling down this recipe. My mom would make it for family gatherings large and small, for cocktail parties, for really, any occasion. It has always been a huge hit, and people are amazed at how exquisite it looks presented on a platter from an antique fish mold, like it swam up fresh and lay down on the platter begging to be eaten. The only thing better than how it looks, is how it tastes.

Warning: this dish is extremely addictive. Once you taste it you cannot stop eating it.

Your party guests will be very happy you make this (when we can have parties again). And the last thing to know: this is an extremely easy recipe! Really… the ingredients are very pedestrian, the technique is super simple except for unmolding the mousse, and even that is pretty easy if you follow the instructions. First time you try this it might not look perfect, but once you figure out how to tease the mousse from your mold, you’re home free.

What about the mold? Vintage fish molds are available on EBay, Etsy, etc. but good ones are hard to find. Most are aluminum or tin with a “copper” coating. Some are real copper. Mine holds about 3 1/4 cups and is 11 x 7 x 2 1/2 inches. Anything between 3 and 4 cups would likely work with this recipe. Good luck finding one! If you do, hang on to it!


“Serving Suggestion”

Tuna Mousse

4 stalks celery
1 onion
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 packets Knox unflavored gelatin
3 cans solid white tuna packed in water
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 cup mayonnaise
Vegetable oil

In a small saucepan, heat the soup until it melts and just begins to simmer slightly. Do not add water – don’t follow the soup directions. To the warm soup, cut in the cream cheese and stir, melting it into the soup. Turn off the heat. Add the 2 packets of gelatin and stir to mix.

In a food processor (or blender but it gets too thick so it is tricky), chop the celery and onions very fine, scraping the sides of the bowl to eliminate any visible pieces. Open the tuna cans and drain thoroughly. Add tuna to food processor, then pour in the soup mixture. Puree until completely, uniformly blended with no chunks – you can’t really process it too long. Taste, and add salt if necessary. Add mayonnaise, and process briefly to mix, but do not process for a long time as the mayonnaise will separate. You can use “light” mayonnaise if you prefer to lower the calories… hahaha!

Oil a large gelatin mold (I use one in the shape of a fish). Oil it thoroughly – it is important that you get a film of oil on the entire surface. Now, pour in the mousse, up to the top edge of the mold. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the gelatin. Careful – you might need to prop it up so it doesn’t tilt and drip in the fridge. You will probably have some leftover mousse – hooray! Pour this into another container for snacks later, and refrigerate this as well. No need to oil this other container. The oil is there just so you can un-mold the mousse when it is time to serve it.

To un-mold the mousse, find a platter large enough to comfortably hold the mousse. Remove the plastic wrap, and then run a knife around the inner edge of the mold to break the seal with the mousse. Invert the mold over the platter, and GENTLY with the knife, tease the mousse out of the mold so that it pulls free and lands on the platter. Probably start with the tail end. It is not as hard as it sounds – but you’ll be glad you oiled the mold well, earlier.

Serve the mousse with Dill Cucumber Slices. Arrange the cucumbers around the fish-shaped mousse like water waves around a fish. Serve on cocktail rye bread slices, or on your favorite crackers.

Dill Cucumber Slices

7 pickling cucumbers
1 quart vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp dried dill weed

Wash, but do not peel the cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers paper thin. Use the extra-thin slicing disk on the food processor unless you want to be slicing for a very long time. 1mm disk.

Add the cucumbers, vinegar, sugar, salt and dill to a large, glass or plastic (not metal) container, and mix well. Make sure there is enough vinegar solution to completely cover the cucumbers. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, lift the cucumbers out of the vinegar, drain, and arrange them with the Tuna Mousse as you like.

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