A sardine is a type of small saltwater fish with a distinctive, rich flavor that may be sold fresh or canned, packed in oil or water. The fish is a source of healthy omega-3 fat and vitamin D and is often consumed grilled, broiled, roasted, or sautéed, and may be chopped up and used in sauces or pate. Pate is a dish made from meat, poultry, or fish, that is blended until it forms a spreadable texture. Sardine pate, often served in French cuisine and referred to by some as a French version of meatloaf, uses the fish as its main component and may be served hot or cold.
The form of the main ingredient in sardine pate may vary depending on the recipe. If a recipe calls for using fresh sardines, the fish are cooked through and then allowed to cool to room temperature before being handled for the dish. Canned sardines are already processed, so they do not generally require any cooking prior to being used in pate. To make the dish creamier, the fish may be combined with butter or oil, with lemon juice or another acidic ingredient typically added to bind the mixture together. Additional flavoring ingredients may include parsley, garlic, onions, or chili pepper; however, since sardines are a saltwater fish and canned sardines may also include additional salt, it is generally advised to taste the combined ingredients before adding more salt to prevent the finished product from being too salty.
The process of preparing sardine pate tends to be basic and does not typically require any cooking after the ingredients are combined. The sardines are blended together, such as with the use of a food processor for a smoother texture or mashed with a fork for a chunkier product, along with the other preferred ingredients. The mixture may placed into a bowl, loaf pan, or individual ramekins, depending on how the cook wants the dish to look when served, before being covered and chilled in order to allow the flavors to meld together.
Sardine pate can be consumed warm, at room temperature, or chilled. It is often served with a knife for spreading it onto the preferred accompaniment. The pate is often accompanied by toasted French bread slices, pita bread, flatbread, or crackers. Pate that was made in a loaf pan may also be cut into thin slices and served as a first course with a spoon or fork, rather than a spreadable appetizer.