TONY STAPLES: Spring it on with a light fish starter

This pretty dish is guaranteed to entice you out of hibernation, says Tony Staples, executive head chef of the Arora Hotel in Crawley.
Smoked salmon and prawn rilletteSmoked salmon and prawn rillette
Smoked salmon and prawn rillette

You’ve probably already shrugged off your winter jumper and started wearing lighter clothes. The same is true with food. As soon as we get the first hint of spring, people’s palates start to crave fresh, light dishes rather than the heavy comfort food they get used to in winter.

So this smoked salmon and prawn rillette is the perfect winter antidote. We serve it with a tiger prawn fritter and olive bread wafers as a starter, but it can easily be a luxury weekend lunch on top of open sandwiches.

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I first made this rillette when I was a junior chef and I had to produce hundreds for a banquet. I’ve tweaked it over time and added the puree and pickled cucumber. It’s three recipes in one but each is so simple you’ll be making it for years to come.

Tony StaplesTony Staples
Tony Staples

The Grill in the Arora is Crawley’s only AA-rosette restaurant. Call 01293 530000. Follow us on Twitter. Share your favourite spring dishes with us on Instagram by tagging @aroragatwick.

Smoked Salmon and Prawn Rillette

Serves 4

For the rillette:

100g cold water prawns

150g smoked salmon, chopped small

1 tsp of chopped, fresh chives

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Splash of brandy (a cap full)

Zest and juice of half a lemon

2 tabs of cream cheese

For the pickled cucumber:

Half a cucumber

100ml white wine vinegar

100ml water

100g granulated sugar

1tsp of pickling spice – or 1-star anise, 1 bay leaf, 4 juniper berries, 4 coriander seeds

For pea and avocado puree:

1 ripe avocado

200g cooked peas

Juice of half a lime

Pinch of cayenne pepper


Make the pickling liquid first by boiling the water, white wine vinegar, sugar and spices together until the liquid reduces to a third of its volume. Leave to cool. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

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Chop the prawns and smoked salmon into small pieces. Place in a bowl and mix in the chives, cayenne pepper, brandy, finely chopped lemon zest and juice. Add the cream cheese and bind together. Leave in the fridge until ready to serve.

Blitz the avocado, peas, lime juice and cayenne pepper in a blender, then pass through a sieve. Peel the cucumber lengthways into long strips. Dip into the pickling liquid and roll up.

To serve, place spoonfuls of the smoked salmon and prawn rillette onto plates. Decorate with the lightly pickled cucumber and a drizzle of the puree. Serve with slices of toasted olive bread.

Chef’s tip

The rillette is also delicious on a toasted bagel or stirred through cooked pasta to make a pasta salad.

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