What if I started this article with a statement like: cream cheese is a must in any worthy fridge? Would you keep reading?
I can already picture the dubious look on your face after reading those lines.
“Cream cheese, she said? What’s that gotta do with Haitian food? That’s not even close to being Haitian! Why is she even mentioning it here? Who is she trying to fool?”
I certainly won’t try to argue against those valid questions and doubts that came to your mind. Not when I clearly state that this blog is about Haiti, its food and gastronomy. I will, however, argue that just because an ingredient is not typical to our soil, it doesn’t mean that it cannot play an essential part in our cooking. If it is associated with a key Haitian ingredient, it definitely has a local flair that makes it worthy of being included in our culinary repertoire.
With that said, let me introduce you to that Haitian appetizer dish of ours that we came up with during the Holidays when we were hosting family for dinner. Or at least the one we think we came up with it, for someone somewhere in Haiti might have done it already.
In Haiti, we tend to eat the same things the same way all the time. So this year, thinking that menu variations would bring a little life to a party, especially to a traditional one like our yearly Christmas dinner, we decided to eat the same thing a different way.
Remember that smoked salted fish mentioned in my previous chiquetaille recipe? The hareng saur?
Well that fish was in our test kitchen this time. Instead of preparing it the same old way mentioned previously, we decided to pair it with my friend the cream cheese from above. We called it “mousse de hareng,” salted smoked herring mousse. And let me tell you, it made a delightful pairing for a quick papita chips, fresh bread or cracker bite.
Our recipe was quite simple. The key ingredients were the herring filet and the cream cheese, which we softened with some cream. We were careful to limit our use of extra seasonings for the smoked salted herring itself already has a strong flavor, enough to please certain palates.
Since we love bold flavors in Haiti, as my piment bouc article highlights, we did, however, maximize the flavors by blending in some bell pepper, onion, some freshly grated black pepper and some piment. That simple. Trust me, if you love herring, you will love this recipe.
The result was a creamy herring mousse rich in flavors. Our only regret was that, in trying to please everyone, we didn’t add as much piment bouc as we would have liked.
Now, I turn to you my dear readers. Why don’t you give the recipe below a try and let me know how you like it or don’t?
I first published this article on January 14, 2015. The 2019 version includes new pictures and an improved recipe.
Aransò (Salted Smoked Herring) Mousse
- 4-5 smoked salted herring filet
- 1 block Cream Cheese
- 15 cl Whipping Cream
- Bell pepper
- Piment bouc optional
- In a food processor, mix the herring with some whipping cream, bell pepper, onion and piment bouc until they are all chopped into a creamy mixture
- Add the previous mix to the softened cream cheese. Adjust the seasoning to taste
- Serve with papita, crackers or fresh bread.