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Dec 22, 2004 03:19 PM

Help! : French Laundry Cornet / Cone

  • h

I can definitely use the collective wisdom of the Chowhound community if I'm going to survive Christmas dinner!

For unknown reasons, I committed to making Thomas Keller's signature salmon tartare cornet (see link).

Being that I've never made them, I'd love your assistance and dos/don'ts/etc.

Beyond the general guidance, a few specific questions:

-- What's the easiest way to perfect the cornet without burning your fingertips?

-- Do I need sushi grade salmon?

-- To make matters more complicated, the dinner is being hosted at relatives who live about 45-minutes away. Should I prepare the salmon itself at the host's home or in my kitchen? Regardless, what's the best way to transport the salmon (ice? dry ice? other?)

-- Any specific kitchen tools helpful -- beyond the stencil and Silpat?

Thanks for your help!!!


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  1. That is ambitious and I usually do fiddly stuff well, I don't know if I would take that on. I would make your cornets and make the rest, the salmon and creme fraiche and not assemble them until you get there. They might get a bit soggy if they have to wait for awhile before being consumed.

    1. Hey!
      I am making them too.
      At least I will try :)
      I am going to make mine ahead, it says you can, I think

      Actually I am going to use tuna in mine as I have another salmon dish. I ordered sushi grade fish for both my unccoked fish appetizer courses.

      the thing i am most puzzled about is making the stencil.
      I don't think i have the appropraiate "lid"
      I am sure a Glad container or something will do the trick
      I am going to prepare everything separate and assemble last thing.

      good luck
      I'll post photos of mine if they turn out ok.
      You'll never hear from me again if they dont...

      1. I have made these a couple of times (always to rave reviews)!
        I have never used a stencil. I just eyeball it.
        I wear vinyl surgical-type gloves but I still burn my fingers.
        Use the highest grade freshest salmon you can get - you only need a little bit.
        You can prepare all components ahead of time but do NOT assemble until just before serving. The cones will start getting soggy 10 minutes after they are filled and they will continue to deteriorate.

        How are you going to display them? I always do mine in rock salt as suggested but it's difficult to secure them. I'd love to hear if anyone has better ideas.
        Good Luck!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Mrs. Jake

          I was thinking about champagne glasses for presentation?

          thanks for the burning finger tip
          not quite sure what I am going to do about that one

          1. re: Sixy Beast

            A champagne glass is nice if you are serving them individually. You will still need something in the glass to keep them upright though. It's tricky.

            1. re: Mrs. Jake

              black sesame seeds are pretty dramatic .... they're not too expensive at Asian markets.

            2. re: Sixy Beast

              Since you're in SF, here's my presentation recommendation:

              Go to Tap Plastics at 154 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94103 Phone: (415) 864-7360

              Pick out a cool colored or clear solid piece of plastic and then have the fabricator (dude behind the counter) cut it into a cool shape & drill holes in it. You can rest the "tray" between to beer mugs while you're filling it.

              I've used Tap on multiple occasions to make various things - they are very helpful and not too costly.

              1. re: Pssst

                thanks! that's a great idea, but I don't think i have enough time for that now.
                I'll keep in mind if i need in the future.
                these are the things I am most worried about making for my upcoming christmas dinner.
                I am a little bit scared!

              2. re: Sixy Beast

                My sister made homemade fortune cookies (for my wedding) which she had to shape while hot. I think she may have used kitchen gloves that allowed dexterity but also shielded her hands from the heat. However, your hands may not be exposed to as much heat w/ these cones since you will be using a mold to shape.

                Re: presentation: champagne glasses would work, esp. if you don't want to go out and buy something special just for this dish. Seems like you could nestle the cone into a mixture of red and green peppercorns for a nice holiday touch. Star anise or whole cloves added in might be nice. Don't believe any of those items would impart any flavor, would they?

                I also thought that the linked vodka set from Crate & Barrel would look very nice if you didn't have more than 6 people. If you drink vodka at home, then the set would go to good use after. Perhaps you can find glasses like these that are open stock. Good luck to both of you and do post a follow-up report w/ pics if possible.


              3. re: Mrs. Jake

                Thanks for the great suggestions!

                There are nine of us for dinner. For the display, I'm leaning towards using the rock salt in a medium-sized candleholder; I figure it's deep enough (4 3/4") but need to make sure it's wide enough (6 1/4").



              4. Just a couple of comments on your transport questions ....

                I'd prepare the salmon on site: a whole piece has a much smaller surface area than chopped pieces, and will keep better.

                Do not use dry ice -- it's too cold. You don't want the salmon frozen, you just want it chilled. Regular ice in an insulated container should be more than adequate for 45 minutes.

                Finally, hell yes on the sushi grade salmon. Why would you go to all this trouble and not use the best salmon you can find, especially since the quality of the salmon makes or breaks the dish?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Thanks for the transport suggestions. As for the sushi-grade salmon, the fishmonger now has my order.


                2. Another suggestion for serving. Instead of rock salt (which you'll need a lot, and not much use for them afterwards), why not try rice? I think plain rice will look nice as well.