Rillette is a fancy term for a chunky dip or spread. The most traditional rillettes are made with braised meat and fat-think duck and duck fat or rabbit. Unlike the more refined pâté, rillettes have more texture and a rustic appearance. Both are typically served with some crusty bread, crackers, and accompaniments like mustard and relishes. Although you’ll generally see rillettes made with proteins like waterfowl, fish makes for an excellent base too. For the skeptical, technically speaking, tuna salad is a fish rillette. You can make a fish rillette from just about any fish, smoked or unsmoked, but I prefer a smoked fish rillette for that added layer of flavor.
The core concept is to shred the fish and add some fat. In this recipe, I'm using smoked bluefish, labneh, and olive oil as the main ingredients. You can make this with trout, salmon, mackerel, or any flakey fish. And you can swap out the labneh for sour cream, greek yogurt, or mayo. You could also substitute duck fat or bacon fat in for the olive oil; there are no rules.
For seasoning, I use some fresh dill, lemon, and celery seed to give a classic flavor profile. Shallots and chives add a little texture and a bit of acidity. All you have to do is mix the ingredients, fold in the fish, and season to your liking. I find that using a fork to fold in the fish strikes a good balance between even distribution and mixed texture.
Rillettes are best served spread on crackers, toast, or crudite. It also makes a mean sandwich if you feel so inclined. Store it in an airtight container and keep cold. Pack it in your cooler for lunches along the river or make it a part of a fancy charcuterie spread. This smoked fish rillette is packed with flavor and protein, it’s portable, and it's a great way to stretch out some of your finely smoked fish.
- 1 cup smoked fish, skin and bones removed, flaked
- ¼ cup labneh, plain whole fat greek yogurt, or sour cream
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. EVOO
- 1 tsp. chives, minced
- ¼ tsp. celery seed
- 1 tsp. fresh dill, minced
- White pepper and salt to taste
Also works with
- Combine all ingredients except fish, whisk to mix.
- Fold in fish with a fork, mix until evenly coated and texture is “kind of chunky.”
- Season with salt and white pepper, store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
- Serve with toast, crackers, or crudite.