Smoked Whitefish and Nori Pâté {recipe} – Not All Pâté is Awful

smoked whitefish and nori pate

Anything called “pâté” makes me want to puke.

Oh, I’ll definitely taste a pâté, I may even actually eat a pâté, but while I’m smmmiling on the outside, I am so totally violently gagging on the inside.

Even if there isn’t so much as a single little sliver of liver in the entire thing.

I have this mental block, through which I just can’t seem to break on through to the other, more open-minded side that understands that not all pâté is awful.

Oh sorry, I mean “offal.”

Pâté refers to a preparation of fat and any meat, not just liver, that has been mixed into a spreadable paste, which sounds like it makes sense because “pâté” looks a lot like “paste,” but pâté actually translates into “pie.”

I do not see how that works at all. Pie? Nope, not at all.


So pâté is basically a spread or a dip, so I shouldn’t cringe, because we all know how much I love a good dip. But when it comes to dips, I’m nowhere near an ooh-la-la fancy French, not-necessarily-liver pâté kind of girl.

I’m so much more a spinach dip kind of girl.

And not even the real spinach and real artichokes that must be heated to melt the cheese so it actually seems like “cooking” spinach dip kind of girl.

I’m a rehydrated-vegetable-flakes-and-powder-soup-mix-with-sour-cream-and-mayo Spinach Dip kind of girl.

Spicy Bean Dip from a pull-top can with a Frito-Lay logo on it kind of girl.

And now, I guess a Smoked Whitefish and Nori…um, Dip kind of girl.

Don’t worry, I would never try to eat the Smoked White and Nori with Fritos Scoops.

But I sure as heck would drink Champagne with a jar of store-bought French Onion Dip.

Perfect Pairing: Whitefish and Nori Pâté with 1996 Salon Champagne.

Smoked Whitefish Nori Pate

Smoked Whitefish and Nori Pâté

recipe from Cooking with Les Dames d’Escoffier, prepared by my good friend Dan Perelli for a dinner party we had at the Casa

12 servings


½ pound smoked whitefish
2 sheets toasted nori (each roughly 8″x8″), divided
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, vut into tablespoon-size pieces
½ cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Smoked Salmon Tartare or 1 ounce caviar (recipe for the Tartare shortly!)
1 to 2 tablespoons mild flavored olive oil
rice crackers


Carefully remove and discard all the skin and bones from the whitefish and put the fish in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Reserve half a sheet of nori for topping the pate. Tear the other sheets into pieces, add them to the processor bowl, and pule until the ingredients are well mixed.

Add the butter, creme fraiche, lemon juice, and pepper to the processor bowl. Puree the mixture until smooth and taste for seasoning. Add more lemon juice and pepper if desired.

Scrape the puree into a metal or ceramic bowl at least 2 inches deep and large enough to hold the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to ripen.

Unmold the pâté by placing the bowl in a pan of warm water for at least 5 minutes, or until you can easily run a knife around he outside edge of the pâté to loosen it. Place a serving bowl upside down on top the bowl, then invert. Remove the bowl, and with a spatula, smooth the top and side of the pâté.

** note ** For the version in the photos above, I shaped the pâté with cylindrical molds on a small plate. To remove the molds, I just let the pâté sit on the countertop to “warm up,” ran a knife around the edge, then very carefully pulled the cylinders up and off.

Roll the reserved half sheet of nori into a tight scroll and cut with scissors into very thin strips. Scatter the strips, which will be in little curls over and around the pâté.

Return the pâté to the refrigerator. If storing for more than an hour, tent it lightly with plastic wrap, being careful not to disturb the nori strips. About 30 minutes before serving, remove the pate from the refrigerator, top with Smoked Salmon Tartare, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with rice crackers.

** note ** The version in the photos above is missing the salmon tartare because I didn’t have anymore left for the photos. Dan substituted a very good truffle oil, which is an ingredient in the Smoked Salmon Tartare, for the mild olive oil.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Corianda September 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Tried a whitefish paté at a Good Food Fest vendor this weekend, and there’s something about smoked fish that’s a little like heaven. The nori takes it from deli counter sandwich to classy. Good work.


2 Corianda September 21, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Also creepin’ on the datebook: yay, techmunch!


3 Amanda September 29, 2011 at 6:57 am

 normally, i’m not a fan of pate. but, that nori just might pull me over into making it  :D




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