Sausage 3
Photos by Donna
I've had sausage on my mind this week but truth be told, this post is really an excuse to publish the above photograph, which is one of my most favorite sausage shots.  Sausage is difficult to shoot well because its shape can be distracting.  And it's next to impossible to shoot appealingly in black and white because even uncooked sausage comes out gray/brown in a black and white image.

The above sausage is white: a scallop sausage with chunks of shrimp inside.  Donna has shot it on a white plate and it conveys the appropriate quality that define this sausage: moist delicacy. The photograph also has a nice circle motif going on, rather than a phallic one, the downfall of so much sausage photography.

The seafood sausage uses what's called a mousseline base, which is a French term for fish or meat pureed with an egg or egg white and cream.  (I've been criticized for my Francophile leanings, so I thought I would use the Italian term here to show that a basic preparation is a basic preparation no matter the name for it; I asked Del Grosso.  He told me it was "moussolina." So even whey I try to get away from the French, I can't!)

It is the easiest and most stable type of pureed or ground meat, delicious and healthful, and thus perfect for the home cook.  There is of course a ratio for mousseline, which can be found here (hey, there are only thirty three ratios in the book, if I give them all away here, who will buy the book?!  And besides, if you're smart you can figure it out from the below recipe for shrimp mousseline).

What can you do with a mousseline?  Use the below shrimp mousseline to make shrimp toast. Spread it on a thin white bread (Pepperidge Farm works well), sprinkle with sesame seeds and fry for delicious shrimp toasts with a little soy, a little rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil dipping sauce (a really easy but impressive canape; make it ahead, keeps well in the fridge till you need it).  You can use it to fill wonton wrappers, pipe it into casing for a sausage, or spoon it into a seafood or vegetable broth for dumplings, or use it as a stuffing for something else. Change the shrimp to chicken and you've got a chicken mousseline (add lots of herbs and some shallot, some lemon zest for an amazing dumpling in chicken soup or ravioli filling). Change it to salmon and cook it in a terrine mold in a water bath for a salmon terrine (mix in chunks of smoked salmon or herbs for garnish and flavor). Really, you're limited only by your imagination when you know this basic technique.

For the above sausage I made a scallop mousseline (careful, scallop quality varies and some can be extremely moist; if you can wring them out, you need to find a better source of scallops). To this I folded in chunks of shrimp which turn pink when cooked and make a cool visual, flavorful interior garnish with a good bite.  I sauteed the sausage very gently in butter, and served them with a lemon beurre blanc, excuse me, a lemon butter sauce with minced shallot.

If you have a food processor, there's no reason not to make mousseline part of your repertoire.

Basic Shrimp Mousseline

8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined (shells reserved for stock if you wish), and well-chilled
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cream

For shrimp toast also include:

1 teaspoon peeled and grated ginger, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 scallions, roughly chopped

Combine the shrimp, egg, salt, and if using, the ginger, garlic, scallion, in a food processor. Pulse the the blade a few times then, with the blade running, pour the cream in a steady stream.

This will make enough for about 20 shrimp dumplings, wontons, potstickers, or portions shrimp toast. For shrimp toast follow the instruction in the post above.

Mousseline 4

36 Wonderful responses to “Mousseline
(and recipe for easy shrimp toast)”

  • Non Dire Gol

    Wonderful! It appears you are making some quenelles there.

  • Amy

    Awesome. Need to get a food processor. Ok…More like want? : P

  • Mykl


    Good post. Having just returned from Lyon, my wife has been bugging me to make the salmon terrine that we’ve had nearly every day over there.

    Don’t forget to remind people to keep their instruments ICY COLD!!

  • elizabeth

    This sounds utterly fantastic–the husband and I are planning on a cooking spree this weekend, so perhaps I can convince him that we should make shrimp raviolis.

    I’ve seen on Good Eats that Alton Brown advocates using bay scallops in purees like this–would you agree? They are always so inexpensive at the store, but still not worth the money if there isn’t a suitable application for them.

  • Beanie

    “The photograph also has a nice circle motif going on, rather than a phallic one, the downfall of so much sausage photography.”

    I’m sorry; this sentenc emade me laugh out loud. I had a mental picture of Ansel Adams, head in hands, howling over a photo of a still life of a kielbasa.

    We’ve made a couple of mousselines from Ratio, and they’ve been every bit as versatile and wonderful as you say. In fact, we had a Potsticker Party with another couple, wehere we made pork, chicken and scallop Mouselline and everyone made their own potstickers, which we then took turns cooking in a hot pot and dipping. Much fun

  • carri

    They look like they are kissing in that photo…Thank you for such an innocent portrayal of such an evocative, er, subject. Michael Nagrant twittered a photo of one of his meals in Wisconsin a while back that’s stuck in my head like a bad skin flick!

  • Scott

    What kind of casing did you use? Every seafood sausage I’ve ever had has ended up with a very tough exterior. I think it may be due to the lack of fat in the filling.

  • ruhlman

    yes, keep everything as cold has possible, if it gets too warm, it “breaks” and you have a crumbly dry texture.

    also shrimp mousseline expands when cooked so don’t pack it too tightly in dumplings.

    and i used sheep casing for those sausages.

  • Tags

    Thanks for sparing us the phallic mousseline. My intuition tells me that “phasseline” would be a bit of a buzz kill for anything related to food.

  • ruhlman

    from the post natalie: “sprinkle with sesame seeds and fry.”

    that would be in oil, of course, pan fry or deep fry.

  • Andy Coan

    “the downfall of so much sausage photography” is my new favourite phrase.

    I just may spend the rest of my life looking for an ooportunity to use it. 🙂

  • Andy Coan

    By the way, that second photograph is brilliant. Of all the things in your kitchen I might covet, the lighting might be number one on the list!

  • Wilma de Soto

    Exquisite photography!

    Will make the shrimp dumplings.

    Don’t you enjoy Vietnamese Tuong Ot in your dipping sauce?

  • Carrie

    I’ve been eyeing this section in Ratio for a while but I’m still focused on the BLT thing at the moment. Happily my lettuce is sprouting nicely, so I think my project may be complete soon!

    I must be a little slow tonight – I’m still not seeing the frying of the shrimp toast. Do the mousseline and sesame seeds not fall off when they’re in the hot oil? It sounds really friggin delicious, but I’ve never seen anyone fry a piece of bread with something smeared on it. I guess I’m just going to have to try it out myself and find out.

  • luis

    This is great. One post a thousand doors openned Michael. YOu have the touch man. I have been thinking on making seafood sausages or pates or a million other things.
    and you give us a shrimp mouselline recipe even I CAN NOT SCREW UP!. Thank you man and I want you to know RATIO is my desktop reference go to book.

  • luis

    Oh, yeah and my bag of farm raised 21-25 frozen shrimp is DEFROSTING as I type. The way I see it a bit of half and half(what I have on hand..) and some butter should work out fine in your recipe. I need fire up some color sweet peppers and with some edamame whizzed up or even some brown rice cooked in fish sauce stock..something something….like that might make tomorrow’s meal.
    shrimp mouselline stuff peppers….
    This is so versatile and fun…man…thank you.

  • Wilma de Soto

    Yo, Luís,

    You’re right. Ruhlman rocks.
    BTW, bought that book about overeating. A good read and learning a lot.



  • chris

    I wonder if mousseline will hold up as crepinettes rolled in caul? I have some defrosted caul in the fridge… Something to do with the community supported fish share (a Boston foodie perk).

  • rageahol

    the “if i give away …who will buy it!” comment sort of rubs me the wrong way, like a hard-sell tactic or something. to be honest it seems a little beneath you. to compound the matter, for my money theres enough evidence that giving away your work freely translates into more sales of the dead-tree editions.

  • James

    Ahhhhhhh! Memories of passing thousands of kilos of fish mousseline are coming back. Make it stop.

    Tastes good though.

  • luis

    Michael, I am in 100% shrimp mousseline and shrimp anything for that matter. But I have to tell you that with something this new for me and a gazillion possibilities I need to go slow and easy.
    Time man… time is the reason I mention this. I need to find time to cook this and many other things. This morning all I had time for is a shrimp edamame stir fry. Delicious. Not complaining. Come Sunday I will actually have some time to cook this and so it goes.\
    An offtopic question for you if I may. Are you familiar with “RESVERATROL” and the 60 min piece? Wish there was a cheaper solution other than forking over 30 large every month or so. Any of you farm wizards out there fell free to share…and thank you all in advance.

  • Donna

    Kissing? wow– never thought anything even close to that but I like it.

    I actually did take a photo of hanging sausage for Chef Michael Symon that made him laugh out loud. I thought it was a creative shot–He said the sausage looked like it had balls as well and he assumed we sent it as a joke. I guess we all see things differently.

  • Steve

    A timely post, as the fish monger at my local farmer’s market had some delicious looking shrimp this morning, and I bought a bunch without a plan. Hoping for some divine intervention, I guess….and here it is.

    I dropped all mousselines and forcemeats from my repetoire upon graduating from LCB in Paris a while back, because to be honest, I had OD’d on the flippin’ things. Over the course of my year there, we ground, pureed, and emulsified any critter that could walk, swim or fly, and in the end, I found a LONG break from this particular culinary preparation was in order.

    Break over. Thanks for the reintroduction to this very versatile technique.

  • JaimL

    Is it firm enough to press into cookie cutting tins and float in consomme? My toddler would love that. She’s mad over her grandmother’s Chinese Hot Pot Shrimp Balls. These would be much more lovely and delicate.

  • Rhonda

    Just catching up. Great post!

    Donna, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are commenting.

    Your photographs are absolutely stunning!!!!

    I would love to see a book on your food photography.

    Also, now that James is in the action, what about a youth cookbook?

    Beth? Beth??? …Dear Mother of God, tear yourself away from the new hot Argentinian intern and pay attention — this is GOLD! He knows more English than you think & he is after your Manolo’s, not you. Sorry, sister, hard truth.

    Have I ever lied to you before — yesterday???

    On a serious note: Donna, I would love to see an available collection of your work in book form.

    What a talented, beautiful family you are!!!

  • Wilma de Soto


    I second that! She doesn’t even need a food stylist!

    What a great combination she and Michael make.

  • luis

    I still think Donna should do video. Rhulman cooking, Rhulman cooking and Bourdain taking notes… Bourdain cooking and Rhulman having a workshop on leftovers… the possibilities are endless..

  • andytseng

    Hey Michael,

    I have a question regarding corned beef I was hoping you could answer. I’m not really sure where I should ask this, but maybe a reader will see it and be able to provide the answer.

    I had some free time today and decided to do the corned beef preparation from Charcuterie. It calls to let the brisket sit in the brine for 5 days. If I’m not planning on making pastrami until day 6, what should I do with the brisket for that extra 24 hours? Will it become too salty if I leave it in there for an extra day? Should I take it out, rinse it, and saran wrap it? Should I have lowered the amount of salt from the original recipe to balance out the extra time in the brine?

    Thanks for your help!

  • Patrick Snook


    About pancetta: I just made my first slab using your recipe, skin on, wrapped in cheesecloth in the basement (humidity around 60%, temps in the low to mid 70s) for 3 weeks. (The total weight loss after three weeks’ hanging was about 21%.) Looks great. Smells great. A little green mold, but wiped off with vinegar.

    But when I cut off the skin, I found the flesh inside to be quite pink and soft. It looks raw. Smells great, but . . . should I be concerned that it did not cure? Will it still be safe to cook and eat?



  • Tana

    You seem to have struck a nerve, Michael.

    “… the downfall of so much sausage photograph” is my new phantom tagline.

  • chef gui

    Very nice post and photos as usual.

    And a nice topic too. It’s interesting to see a technique that is not much used anymore, probably because it’s so reminiscent of Classic French Cuisine. But the taste & texture of a mousseline well done is a fantastic thing.

  • Patrick Snook


    I feel duty bound to answer my own question:-)

    I tried my pancetta. Simply hacked off a slice, made lardons roughly, fried them for a few minutes in their own fat until smoking and brown.

    Tasted simply fabulous. 20+ hours later, no gastrointestinal problems to report!