My first encounter with pâté was thanks to the late Dr Frank Dourado, a popular general practitioner in Ipoh. Many years ago, my father went to his clinic on Brewster Road for consultation. Both gardening geeks, the two men got along like a house on fire, though their backgrounds were very different. Their friendship extended beyond the clinic. From time to time, Dr D would drop by my house, inevitably with a bunch of fruits in his car boot.
When I was around 10 or so, we were invited to a tea party organised by Dr D’s wife, who was English. Set up in his lush garden, the party was my first exposure to Anglo culture and quirks. I remember holding to my cup of tea for dear life in a corner of the garden, petrified yet fascinated by my experience.
While there were plenty of dainty tidbits available, the most memorable item was a cracker topped with an orangey paste and salty black pearls. I took a bite before realising in shock that the paste was made of cold fish! My entire life in Malaysia, I had only eaten HOT cooked fish and thought that was how the rest of the world consumes it as well.
Yet, although my Asian sensibilities were crying in horror, I actually liked the deeply savoury taste and smooth texture. I finished the entire cracker and went back to the buffet table for seconds … and maybe thirds …
Only later did I learn that the orangey paste was salmon pate and the salty black pearls were caviar. I only got to eat pate again when I became a freelance journalist. Once in a while, I attended media events in posh hotels, where the organisers would wine and dine journos.
So what is pâté?
Pâté is a French term used to describe a paste made from a seasoned mixture of ground meat and fat.
Traditionally, pâtés include organ meat. Liver is the most commonly used, as it contributes positively to the earthy flavour and spreadable texture of the pâté.
Some pâtés also incorporate smoothing agents like eggs or butter. You can eat it hot or cold, but it develops its best flavours after a few days of chilling. Common types of pâté are goose liver pâté, salmon pâté, pork pâté, etc.
It is so delicious but not something I imagined making at home, until I watched Helen Rennie’s salmon pâté video. You should totally subscribe to her – she looks like a cross between Audrey Toutou and Audrey Hepburn and presents so well!!
Mind you, hers isn’t the traditional version. It also incorporates chopped herbs, but I imagine that it would add positively to the taste.
The only thing is, she used fresh salmon, and I didn’t have any at home.
Could I make do with smoked salmon?
I basically chopped up a bunch of ingredients and seasoned it. Yes, this is a super easy recipe you can whip up in 10 minutes or less if you have all the ingredients.
For so little work, the returns are fantastic. My simply-anyhow-just-dump-everything-in-one-bowl pretend pâté turned out so good. We had it for breakfast, spread over toasted sourdough. To make our meal more substantial, I topped our pâté toastie with sliced ramen eggs. Why eggs? It is one of the common ingredients in the pâté, which has mayo, which as you know, is made from eggs. The way to “pair” ingredients compatibly is by finding common ingredients.
Anyways, enough of my nerd talk! Here’s how to do it 🙂
Smoked Salmon Pate
- Mixing bowl, chopping board and knife
- 80g smoked salmon
- 1 sprig coriander leaves
- 1 small stalk spring onion
- 7-8 capers
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 tbsp sour cream
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper if necessary
- Chop up smoked salmon.
- Finely chop coriander, parsley, scallions or whatever aromatic leaves you have.
- Chop up capers.
- Mix together the salmon and chopped aromatic leaves with mayo, sour cream, mustard and capers. You can also add lemon juice if you like it more tangy. Most of the condiments are already salty so check for seasoning before you add salt and pepper.
- Chill in fridge overnight.
- Spread over toasted bread.
Now that you’ve had a taste of a Western condiment, how about trying out an Asian one for a change – otak-otak?