Salmon Pâté

Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

I mean, it could be, if we were rescuing the recipes of France. Or if we were talking about modern American cuisine, or global cuisine, or all kinds of other food, the word pâté would be received with unmitigated joy.

Smoked Atlantic Salmon Pâté by New Brunswick Tourism, on Flickr (CC license) (cropped)

But for Americans who grew up in the late 20th century, pâté is a cringe-inducing word for all of the right and wrong reasons. How can I explain this? It’s the culinary equivalent of a late-night R-rated movie on cable. It’s got most of the same elements as its blockbuster cousins, but it’s cheap and tawdry. At best, it’s a pale imitation, and at worst, it’s a grotesque insult to the genre.

And while people of good taste aren’t supposed to enjoy them–what’s not to enjoy? Consider this example of a salmon pâté, from the July 10, 1969 edition of the San Antonio Express:

Salmon Pâté

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cans (16 oz. each) salmon
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk

Soften gelatin in cold water; heat over hot water until dissolved. Combine mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, rained and mashed salmon and drain pickle relish. Pour dissolved gelatin on salmon mixture and blend. Press into an oiled mold and chill. Unmold on serving plate. Beat cream cheese with milk until spreading consistency. Frost pâté. Chill. Serve with crackers.


From a box sold in Nampa, Idaho.

Salmon Pâté

1 (15-1/2 oz.) can salmon — drain (can use leftover salmon)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese

Add white pepper
hickory smoke (liquid or salt) to taste (use sparingly)
2 spring onions, chopped fine

Serve on pumpernickel bread or crackers. Can dip in horseradish and sour cream mixture.

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