Portuguese folks often serve sardine pâté before a meal, along with olives and delicious dense-textured bread which is unique to Portugal.
Sardines are cheap, healthy and nutritious as well as being absolutely delicious. Although sardine pâté is not the prettiest dish to look at, it’s definitely worth giving this a try.
Here we’ve paired them with another Mediterranean favorite – salt-cured capers, which add a tanginess and transforms this pâté from good to great!
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Recipe courtesy of Elisabete Chadikun
* If you can, make sure the capers you use are packed in sea salt. All capers, which are flowers from the caper plant, are packed in salt originally. The ones that are then cleaned and repackaged in water or vinegar for sale, suffer and begin to lose their flavour and end up just tasting of vinegar!
To use capers in salt, first rinse away all the salt (unless your dish badly needs some added salt), and then soak them in water for a quarter of an hour or so.
- 8-10 whole sardines, cleaned and filleted (350g) or good quality tinned sardines
- 1 large onion, diced
- 30g capers*
- 70g butter (room temperature)
- 1tsp paprika (spicy)
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Sea salt
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 190°C.
- First prepare your sardines. If you have a friendly fishmonger you can ask them to gut them and clean off any scales although you’ll probably still need to fillet and debone them which can be a little fiddly and certainly requires some fish-boning tweezers. It depends how long you want to be in the kitchen. It can be quite a soothing and enjoyable way to pass the time, especially as you’re preparing everything from scratch. Alternatively if time is of the essence you can always choose to use some good quality tinned sardines instead.
- Having removed the heads, tails and any fins and cleaned and deboned your fish, butterfly them and arrange them in the single layer on a baking tray. Season well with salt and pepper, and bake until just cooked, about eight minutes.
- Remove them from oven and put to one side to cool.
- Once they have cooled to room temperature, put your sardines in your food processor along with diced onion, butter, capers, paprika and olive oil and pulse until well blended. It’s up to you how smooth you make your pâté, but there’s a lot to be said about a nice chunky pâté.
- Add lemon juice and taste. Season with salt and pepper if required, although if you’ve used capers that were preserved in sea salt, then you almost certainly won’t need to add any more salt.
- Scrape your pâté into a suitably sized ramekin or terracotta bowl and put in the fridge to chill overnight.
- Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before serving, ideally with some lovely fresh bread.