Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bluefish Pâté

When a bluefish tail was leftover after yesterday's cooking class, I knew it would find a good home in some dish the next night. Any fish leftovers are good, but bluefish leftovers are so good that I sometimes cook bluefish just to have leftovers. The trick to dealing with fish leftovers is to give up the idea of reheating them. Reheated fish does not taste nearly as good as all the delectable things you can make out of it, like crêpes, tacos, burgers, salads, and pâtés. And no fish plays this reusable role more admirably than bluefish. If there were Fish Academy Awards for the best leftover fish, bluefish would definitely win one. Its velvet texture is perfect for any mashed up preparation, and its flavor stays pronounced even when it's cold.

My little bluefish tail was just the right amount for a little pre-dinner snack of bluefish pâté. But as I got the jar of mayo out of my fridge to add to flaked fish, the gym scale materialized out of nowhere. "Helen," it said in its clunky hoarse voice. "What about all that weight you gained over the holidays? I thought you were going to be good at least on weekdays." I hate it when the scale pops into my kitchen unannounced and makes me feel guilty. But I have to admit that on occasion it has given me a good idea or two, so I put the jar of mayo back in the fridge and thought hard about my options.

I've often substituted yogurt for mayo in chicken salad with great results. Yogurt and fish... Hmm, somehow that did not seem like a match made in heaven. But what the heck, I decided to try it. It was such a tiny amount of bluefish that even if I screwed it up and had to throw it away, it would not be a biggie.

In went the yogurt, a quirt of lime, salt, and plenty of pepper. Wow -- it was really good! My initial surprise wore off when I realized that bluefish and salmon taste great with cream cheese, which is milky and tart. The yogurt I used was not far off. It was Greek Total brand whole-milk strained yogurt. That stuff is unbelievably thick and creamy. It gave the pâté luxurious richness and a bright tang to contrast the bluefish.

But isn't that full-fat yogurt a calorie buster? Out of curiosity I decided to do the math. Whole-milk yogurt has 260 calories per cup – that's about 18 per tablespoon. I pulled a jar of mayo out of my fridge – 90 calories per tablespoon. I'll take the yogurt!

Bluefish Pâté

Note: Greek and Armenian yogurts, like Total and Karoun, are sold already strained, and are available at most Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. If you use an American yogurt (even organic brands), you have to strain them in a colander lined with paper towel in the fridge over night.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

1 Lb bluefish leftovers, cooked any way you like
1/3 cup whole-milk strained yogurt or mayo
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1/4 cup very finely minced shallot or onion (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, dill, or cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove skin from bluefish, and flake it by hand into a bowl.
  2. Add yogurt, lime juice, mustard, shallots, and herbs, and mash with a fork until spreadable consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve on toasts.


Joycelyn said...

hi helen, i am so happy you gave me the opportunity to discover your lovely lovely blog! that fish pate looks very delicious; thanks for sharing the recipe

Anonymous said...

Delicious! I am so glad that I found your blog. I love fish but I often find that I run out of ideas in terms of how to prepare it and what types of fish to try. Now I know where to come!

This recipe looks incredible. Keep up the great blogging.

(I'm adding you to the blog list on my blog!)

tsduff said...

Your receipes are great - and I love the part about the kitchen scale popoing on the scene...


Anonymous said...

Sounds great. How long will it keep in the fridge?

Helen said...

This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.