We’re back again with another valuable technique, the water bath, essential for gentle cooking. The water bath uses the miracle tool, water. Water makes life as we know it possible. It’s one of the only substances that expands when it freezes rather than contracts (if it didn’t, ice would sink, not simply ruining your gin and tonic, but rendering the gin and tonic moot, as most of habitable earth would be flooded). Water cannot go above 212°F in normal circumstances (it can if you heat it under pressure or, with less pressure, specifically at high altitudes, it turns to gas at lower temperatures). And importantly, it cools as it evaporates (which is why sweating cools our body).

In this video we use it to gently cook emulsified shrimp and cream, mixed with whole chunks of seafood for an easy and elegant crab and scallop terrine. (A water bath also creates a super-juicy meatloaf, btw.)

You can read more about terrines in my book Charcuterie, if you’re so inclined, and I rhapsodize about water as one of the key techniques in Ruhlman’s Twenty. I’ll be back next week with another technique. See more of my technique videos here on the LC site. Also, at the end of the video, there’s a fun experiment LC is trying, called the Pass It On Potluck. I’m fascinated to see how it’s going to work. To enter, go here.

Seafood Terrine

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • 16 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 leek, white part only, thoroughly cleaned, diced small and sautéed in butter till tender, then chilled
  • 4 ounces/120 grams scallops, chopped in large chunks or whole if small
  • 4 ounces/120 grams lump crab meat
  • ¼ cup minced chives
  1. Bring the cream to a simmer over high heat, then remove from the heat and add the saffron. Let the saffron infuse the cream for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain into a clean container and thoroughly chill.
  2. Preheat your oven to 300°F/149°C.
  3. Be sure all ingredients to be pureed are very cold. Puree the shrimp with the egg whites and salt in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add half of the cream. The mixture should be stiff enough to shape. Continue adding the rest of the cream with the machine running.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the shrimp mousseline with the leeks, scallops, crab, and chives, gently folding the garnish to distribute it evenly.
  5. Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap (it helps to wet the mold so that the wrap sticks). Fill the terrine mold with the seafood. Fold the plastic wrap over it and cover with a lid (or foil).
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Set the terrine in a roasting pan and pour the simmering water into the roasting pan so that it comes three-quarters of the way up the sides of the terrine mold. Put the roasting pan in the oven and cook until the terrine reaches an interior temperature of 135° to 140°F/57° to 60°C. Watch the video for serving ideas.

Makes eight 3-ounce portions.


  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of cayenne powder
  • ¾ cup/180 milliliters vegetable oil
  1. Combine the shallot with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and set aside while you make the mayonnaise.
  2. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, the salt, water, yolk, and cayenne in a bowl (or in a large Pyrex measuring cup if you’re going to use a hand blender, my preferred method). Whisking continuously, add a drop or two of the oil into the bowl or cup to establish the emulsion, then continue pouring the oil in a thin stream into the bowl while whisking, until all the oil has been incorporated and the mayonnaise is thick and sumptuous. If using the hand-blender method, you can add the shallot after mixing for a chunkier mayo, or blend the shallot with the yolk for a smooth finished mayo.

Makes about 6 ounces/180 grams

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


17 Wonderful responses to “Le Creuset Technique: The Seafood Terrine”

  • Matt Krantz

    Beautiful terrine and excellent series all around. Now if we just had your Mom’s meatloaf recipe…

  • pink salt

    You are looking awful sharp in pink Michael. Pink is perhaps the best color one could wear during a seafood terrine demo.

  • Chappy

    Great post and video. I might note that the recipe on the Le Creuset website it wrong. The directions start with:
    “Place duck fat into warm skillet and heat until simmering.”
    There is no duck fat in the recipe.

  • Froggy

    this recipe seems amazing. It would be nice, if you could give measurements in grams and temperatures in celsius as well. It would make things so much easier. Thanks!

    • ruhlman

      in my error ridden system. either will work but I’ve reduced to make a total of 1.5 pounds/675 grams total weight of seafood. thanks for the catch.

  • SousSet

    for the people who want to cook sous vide, but haven’t because of the high cost of equipment:

    there is a $60 dollar device called SousSet that runs off an app and/or a website.

    my friends and I have been working on this project for a long time and just want to help people get into it! we have a couple left in this batch, and the next batch should be cheaper still.


  • Ted Hull

    Mike: a couple of notes on the thermodynamics. Not that I think about it too much, but my understanding has always been that the advantage of water being less dense as it freezes (i.e. it floats) is that there are myriad places where life (fish, microbes, etc) can survive the winter because liquid water remains beneath the ice. That’s had a huge impact on the ability of life to thrive and evolve. The other note is that water boils at lower temperature at higher altitude (lower pressure) but higher temperature at higher-than-atmospheric pressure. Pressure cookers rely in part on this.

    The terrine sounds wonderful.

  • Victoria

    I don’t know how I missed this when it first posted, but I did. I bought that terrine through your link and just love it. So I will try this recipe very soon as the seafood at Fairway has been really good lately – I’ve been able to get wild shrimp, and they have local wild sea scallops, which I will quarter. By the way, the terrine makes a lovely wedding present for the couple who cooks, especially if you include this recipe and a copy of Twenty.


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