Portrait of a recipe

Natasha Lester’s novel, The Paris Seamstress, is a gorgeous romantic story of intrigue, danger and love set in France and in the United States of America during WWII. In the book, her heroine Estella Bissette flies back to Paris on a dangerous mission in a boat plane on which the characters share an amazing meal of piping hot soup, lobster and smoked salmon. That was all the inspiration we needed to concoct this delicious lobster and salmon mousse – with caviar of course! And with champagne, of course of course!!

This recipe is sourced from the BBC’s Two Hairy Bikers. It’s incredibly decadent and very French: full of cream and untold deliciousness. A great one for a glamorous book-club get-together. You make it the day beforehand and refrigerate overnight, so you can kick back and enjoy the gathering with everyone else, confident in the fabulousness of the dish.

  • One whole cooked lobster – 400g-500g (14oz-1lb 2oz), or 150g (5½oz) cooked lobster meat

  • 50g-75g (1¾oz-2¾oz) cooked prawns

  • 100ml (3½fl oz) cold water

  • Juice 1/2 lemon

  • Dash of tobasco

  • 4 sheets of gelatine

  • 150g (5½oz) mayonnaise

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 150g (5½oz) mayonnaise

  • 200ml (7fl oz) double cream

  • 100g (3½oz) smoked salmon, very finely chopped

  • A little sunflower oil, for greasing

  • Salmon caviar (from supermarkets) and dill sprigs, to serve


To make the mousse, first extract the meat from the lobster. Lie the lobster on its back, then with a sharp knife or cleaver, cut down the centre.

Remove the tail meat, then using a mallet or rolling pin, crack open the legs and extract all the meat – you may need to tease it out with a skewer. Remove any other meat you can see from the body, making sure you discard any green tomalley (the intestinal tract). Weigh the meat – you should have between 125g and 150g (4½oz-5½oz).

Make up the total amount of shellfish meat to 200g (7oz) with cooked prawns and put in a food processor. Put the water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling. Add the Tabasco and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in some cold water. When they have softened, squeeze them out and add to the lemon water. Stir until completely dissolved. Purée the shellfish meat in the food processor, then add the mayonnaise.

Pulse a few times, then gradually add all the lemon water, pulsing until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Whisk the double cream until it reaches the soft peaks stage, then gently fold this into the lobster mixture. Check for seasoning again. Stir through the chopped smoked salmon.

Grease a 600ml (1pt) mould, or eight individual moulds, with sunflower oil, then pour in the mousse. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least six hours, or overnight, until set. To serve, remove the mould or moulds from the fridge and dip the underside into a bowl of just boiled water for a count of three to loosen the mousse. Turn out onto a serving plate or individual plates. Garnish with spoonfuls of salmon caviar and a few sprigs of dill, with the cucumber dressing spooned around.

Image Credit: Claire Absolum