The cooking gods seem to have graced me with a string of lucky kitchen accidents recently. Beyond the poached-quince-turned-fruit leather-incident earlier this week, I've had already another one worthy of sharing.
It began as an attempt at fish sausage. I’d picked up a brochure on the delicacy, somewhere, and pulled it out in the face of a mountain of leftover codfish. There was something alluring about the idea of a seafood sausage; something thrilling in the imagined transformation of raw flesh of the sea into smoky, spicy links.
It didn’t work out this way, however; the fish was supposed to be raw, for starters, and my leftover mackerel had already been cooked, the salmon smoked for weeks. Atop that, I was supposed to have a sausage horn, and casing, and a dash of Pernod, none which graced the reaches of my cupboards.
But I still had the fish, and, unwilling to accept defeat, I forged doggedly ahead towards sausage. I pureed codfish and smoked salmon and herbs, crushed a handful of hot peppers and cilantro, and poured in cream and a lone, goopy egg white with a good dash of paprika. I ran the food processor pulse after pulse after pulse, until finally vegetables met flesh and a sort of paté-esque paste emerged.
The longer I tasted and hemmed and hawed, the clearer it became that in fact my fish sausage was paté. And so I switched directions: rolled out a batch of crackers, set the oven on to bake, and spread the first crisp wafer with my creation. It was delicious: spicy and firm, with plenty of veggies and a smoky fish flavor to boot. And while it may not have been what I was trying for, it certainly hit the spot.
LEFTOVER FISH PATE
Makes an appetizer dip for 12
Mince: 1 leek, 1 small, tart apple, 1 tomato, and 3 small hot peppers. Sautee leek in 2 tablespoons butter until soft, then add apple, tomato, and hot pepper. In a food processor, puree 1 lb. leftover cooked fish [I used a combination of 3/4 lb. pan-fried mackerel and 1/4 lb. smoked salmon, but any variety of different fish are likely to work]. Add 1 egg white, 2 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/2 cup heavy cream and puree until smooth. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve chilled with crackers.