THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN a good summer fish dip and a fish and shellfish pate has even more to do with context and mindset than with method or ingredients. You’re having dip if you’re wearing flip-flops and holding a Corona and your bathing fit is still damp. If you’re drinking and sporting white dollars Muscadet underneath the dizzyingly high ceiling at chef Mike Lata’s Charleston, S.C., fish and shellfish hall the Ordinary, you’re eating smoked fish pate.
The pate at the Ordinary is a elegant and versatile riff on the Florida fish-shack classic– one that can quickly be made at home with whatever your local catch happens to be. “Our go-to species presently are all sort of jacks– amberjack, rudderfish and even pompano,” said Mr. Lata. “Trout and salmon also work, though we don’t get those right here in Charleston.” Here are three seafood dishes that will suit similarly well at a classy mixed drink party or a beach picnic– whatever you opt to call them.
FISH AND WHITE-BEAN SPREAD.
Pureeed beans make this spread both hearty and dairy-free.
Complete Time: 5 minutes Makes: 2.5 cups.
Include 8 ounces smoked fish and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add 1.25 cups (a 15-ounce can) drained and washed cannellini beans, 2 tbsps lemon juice, 3 tbsps olive oiland hot sauce to taste.
Edouardo Jordan, chef de food of Seattle’s Bar Sajor, makes use of Dungeness crab for this dip however recommends making use of whatever is fresh and local. “I’m from the South, so I like blue crabs, however given that I’m on the West Coast I use exactly what is available,” he said.
Complete Time: 15 minutes Makes: 2 cups.
PREPARE POTATO: Peel and finely grate 1 medium Yukon Gold potato. Boil grated potato in lightly salted water till tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature.
MAKE SEA-URCHIN MAYONNAISE.
Blend 1 lobe (25-35 grams) fresh sea urchin with 1/2 cup mayo. MAKE DIP: In a mixing bowl, lightly crush potatoes with the back of a fork. Add 0.75 cup chose Dungeness or other crabmeat, 0.5 cup sea-urchin mayonnaise and 2 tbsps blanched, sliced haricots verts or samphire (sea beans).
SMOKED FISH PATE.
At the Ordinary, this pate is served with pumpernickel toast points. A sleeve of saltines works well, too.
Total Time: 10 minutes Makes: 3 cups.
Using your hands, shred 12 ounces smoked fish. (Wear gloves if you want, or put the fish in a large Ziploc bag and shred the fish inside the bag). Move fish to a mixing bowl and combine with 0.5 cup creme fraiche, 1 cup cream cheese, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tbsp minced shallots, 1 tsp chopped chives and Tabasco sauce to taste.