Aspic is a dish that is made with gelatin from meat, which can be from any of the sources such as veal, pork, beef, chicken, turkey or fish. Usually various ingredients are set in the gelatin that is made from meat stock or consommé. The reason for using meat gelatin in this recipe is because of the natural ability of this kind of gelatin to congeal easily, which can be clarified with egg whites and flavored as per choice before the gelatin sets. There are different gelatin salads made in various cuisines that are similar to this dish.
Origin of Aspic Recipe
This dish has a recorded history that dates back to around 1375 when the recipe was first written down in Le Viandier. The first ‘chaud froid’ (a similar gelatin meaning “hot-cold”) was created in France by Marie-Antoine Careme, who later created many more variations of the recipe of Aspic. The reason the dish was called so is because it was made hot and served cold. In fact, a lot of cold fish and poultry dishes used chaud froid sauce to add moisture and flavor. However, it was only by the mid-20th century, the gelatin became popular, wherein, it was used for preserving cooked meats. Today, the most popular variation of this gelatin dish is the one that uses tomato as one of the main ingredients.
Preparing Aspic Dish
Aspic is prepared with meat stock, which makes it sit firm. The stock is heated to give a thick consistency and then it is cooled, which thickens gradually. During this process, there are three variations of the recipe that results in consistencies/textures of the jelly, which can be used for various purposes from protecting the food to flavoring and finally decorating food. The ‘delicate’ jelly is soft and can be enjoyed as is and is also for coating food; while the ‘sliceable’ jelly needs to be made in a terrine/mould and this too can be eaten as is. The third type is the ‘inedible’ variety that is used only for decoration. This type of jelly cannot be eaten.
Types of Aspic Dish
This dish is quite popular during Christmas and Easter. It is known by different names in countries across the world. This recipe is quite popular in European countries such as Poland, where the jelly is known as ‘galareta’, in Ukraine it is known as ‘studinets’, in Latvia as ‘galerts’, in Serbia as ‘pihtije’, in Romania as ‘piftie’/’racituri’, and it is known as ‘kholodets’ in Russia. Aspic is also famous among the Newars of Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, where buffalo meat jelly/gelatin in combination with fish aspic is included in the festive gourmet.
Trivia: Aspic Recipe
This particular dish made from fish and vegetable stock is generally not as firm as that made from meat stock and because of this the gelatin of fish or vegetable source tends to melt easily in the mouth.
Aspic is used for giving a lacquered finish to food to make it look fancy and the jelly can also be cut into various shapes which can be used for garnishing deli meats or pates.