Some foods are nearly universal, and beloved wherever they turn up: pizza, chicken noodle soup, pickles, and ice cream - these are just a few examples.
Then, there are foods found around the globe that have for some reason shirked the spotlight even while they grace the table.
Pâté is one of those foods - and if you’ve heard of it before, you might assume it is served in only the fanciest of French restaurants. Pronounced pah-TAY, you can’t help but feel fancy when you say it, and indeed, it is a delicacy associated with wealth and entitlement, among the ranks of caviar and white truffles.
But pâté is not to be confined to the white tablecloths of the uber-wealthy. It’s a dish that can be made at home with the right ingredients and a taste for adventure. And even if you’ve never heard of pâté before, that doesn’t mean your tastebuds won’t love this paste-y delicacy and revel in the new taste possibilities of a kitchen experiment.
What is Pâté?
French for paste, pâté is traditionally served baked within a crust or molded as a terrine. It is a malleable spread of mixed and seasoned poultry (gourmet duck liver being common), seafood, red meat, or vegetables. Often, pâté is a combination of the above categories, with several ingredients used as the base. Wild game is also a popular addition to the spread.
Depending on the recipe and the preferences of those at the table, world-renowned chefs and home cooks alike can serve pâté hot, cold, molded, unmolded - the limits determined by imagination and taste buds alone.
While we generally associate it with French culinary culture, you can find pâté dishes all over the world. Americans who eat liverwurst by choice or under the duress of a cranky grandmother? That’s pâté. Cats, anxiously awaiting their wet food as you scoop it from the can? That would be a version of pâté I sincerely discourage you from eating unless it is an emergency. And what of that delicious paste upon the bread loaf that acts as an essential, unifying ingredient of your favorite Bahn Mi sandwich? Yep, also pâté. And the whitefish spread from your favorite local bagel shop? A very close relative of, yes, you’re onto it, pâté.
While the texture is undeniably polarizing, those who love it may not even realize that pâté has been a quiet hero of their pallet all along.
How To Make Pâté At Home
Making pâté at home can be easy, especially when you incorporate tuna, sardine, and other canned fish varieties as your base. Often, the process is as simple as combining various ingredients in a bowl, forming the paste into a ball to cool in the fridge for a few hours, and then serving with crackers or on a slice of bread.
Whether you are successful in your attempts will depend greatly on personal preferences for taste and texture. Either way, you’ll be sure to either impress and/or distress those people (and perhaps cats) in your home with whom you are weathering this global pandemic. Why not give it a try?
Delicious Dishes To Try, DIY
Since tuna is so delicious, this can be a great pâté to begin with if you’re feeling nervous. There are a number of great free recipes online that combine canned tuna, cream cheese, spices, and fresh herbs.
A tasty sardine pâté can be another safe bet, especially if you’re trying to convince lackluster eaters to give this salty fish a try. Combine sardines with sun-dried tomatoes, mayonnaise, spring onions, and lemon juice in a food processor, and presto! - you’ve got yourself a gluten-free, paleo-friendly, keto treat ready to munch in less than 10 minutes.
If you want to dive a bit deeper into the possibilities of pâté, there are recipes that use seafood as a base ingredient but also incorporate yummy additions like lentils and other grains - filling possibilities that will provide you and your family with important omega-3s, which are so important in a healthy, balanced diet.
Be A Conscious Consumer
As is always the case when purchasing and consuming an ocean-based product, it’s super important to do your research and know which companies are conducting their business in an ethical, sustainable way.
Different conservation organizations have easily-identified labels on cans of fish. This is an especially important tool for those of us not living near the ocean and unable to ask local fisherman or shops about the specifics of where and how their fish are harvested. Even if you live in the Rocky Mountains or the sweeping prairies of the Midwest, it makes a difference to slow down and intentionally select your fish purchases. Knowing that your dollar went to support healthy and responsible fishing enterprises will make the pâté on your plate all the more meaningful.