Saturday, January 09, 2010

Fish Pâté made with Tuna

I am relearning to appreciate canned tuna in ways other than tuna salad sandwiches -- which I still love (see my blog of 9/22/07 for a California-style fruited tuna salad, for example).

This appreciation returned last summer after enjoying tuna in a delightful Thai "curry" served over rice noodles. This was prepared by my sister-in-law Nai, who is from Chiengmai, as part of a dinner that she and I cooked. (See my blog posting of 9/12/09 for a slight variant of Nai's Nam Ya Pla.)

Two dishes suddenly come back to mind that I loved long ago, but had forgotten about. Tuna-noodle casserole with cream of mushroom soup and crumbled potato chips is from my childhood. Tuna curry is something we made when I lived with West Indian students in Jamaica during my student research summers there.

Writing for the Athens Banner-Herald in my column, "Le Gourmet Fauché" (the Broke Gourmet), I did a special article in early December on non-extravagant entertainment foods for the holidays. Tuna figured into that as an inexpensive replacement for salmon pâté. I thought it worked out, and I also served it with strongly positive reviews at our Christmas open house.

This fish pâté appetizer, though a creation, hints of France or Scandinavia. It spreads well on crackers or baguette slices. Use oil-packed tuna for best flavor. Be sure the crackers are not salty or heavily seasoned.

Fish Pâté

2 (4-ounce) cans chunk light tuna, in oil
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons freshly minced dill, plus extra for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons capers, drained (rinsed if dry-packed in salt)

Drain tuna. Mix together all ingredients except capers with fork until smooth. Coarsely chop capers and mix them in.

After 10 minutes. Mix again and taste. Add salt and/or lemon juice as needed.

Spoon into serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until needed.

Serve sprinkled with minced dill.

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