Salmon Rillettes

In preparation for our trip to Paris a few years ago, I reread Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, Blackberry Wine (my personal favourite) and Five Quarters of the Orange, taking note of all the beautifully described foods (and drinks) I was going to try.


There was just one problem… Many French delicacies were not made with the vegetarian in mind. Think of foie gras, most pâté, duck confit, escargot. Even when I used to eat meat, it never ever extended to offal.

It didn’t take long for the disappointment to dwindle down to nothing; there were just too many quiches, crepes (both savoury and sweet) and pastries to try that I promptly forgot all about fancy-named offal ‘treats’.

Well, until the next time that I reread Five Quarters of the Orange. In it, many characters dine on rillettes, often referred to as ‘poor man’s pâté’. It is traditionally made with pork cooked in fat until tender and then cooled with even more fat until a paste has formed. It is then slathered on bread and eaten at room temperature.

Doesn’t sound very appetising, does it?

And then, years later and quite by accident, I stumbled across a salmon rillettes recipe by David Lebovitz. In Joanne Harris’s words: ‘The right circumstances sometimes happen of their own accord, slyly, without fanfare, without warning. Layman’s alchemy. . . The magic of everyday things’ (Blackberry Wine).

The combination of ingredients and method used to create salmon rillettes is nothing short of layman’s alchemy.

Happy Bastille Day everyone.

Salmon Rillettes

  • Servings: makes approx. 2 cups
  • Print



  • 250g piece of salmon (preferably wild, bones removed)
  • Salt
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 125g smoked salmon (cut into thin strips, then cut into 2cm pieces)
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder or smoke paprika or a few turns of freshly-ground white pepper


  1. Season the salmon on both sides lightly with a bit of salt. Steam the salmon in a steamer basket until just cooked, about 8 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mash together with a fork the butter and the olive oil until very smooth. (This is très important; otherwise there’ll be big chunks of butter in the finished rillettes.)
  3. Stir in the lemon juice, then the chopped chives and smoked salmon.
  4. Remove the skin from the salmon and flake the cooked salmon over the mixture, then fold the pieces of salmon into the rillette mixture along with the chili powder. Season with salt, if necessary.
  5. Scrape into a serving dish, cover, and chill for at least two hours. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature before serving.

Storage: The rillettes can be made up to two days before and refrigerated. They can also be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to two months.

Recipe by David Lebovitz as found on his blog.


About Food Daydreaming

I follow new recipes perfectly the first couple of times and then I pull them apart and put them back together my way. My biggest pet peeve is when I follow a recipe to a tee and then it doesn't turn out the way it should... I end up growling in my kitchen and that's just not right ;)

2 responses to “Salmon Rillettes

  1. I have to make this, sounds delicious.

  2. I cannot explain how delicious these rillettes are. They are moreish, bursting with flavour and are a perfect dish for summer – you prep them before a scorching day and enjoy a no-fuss, no-cook meal on a hot day.

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