Smoked Catfish Pate

This spread or pate is so good, I know you won’t be able to stop at just one bite! Serve on homemade melba toast or simple crackers. Bluefish and trout are both good substitutions for the catfish.


  • 4 Beer-Brined Smoked Catfish Fillets (see recipe)
  • 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ - ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers in liquid
  • 2 teaspoons caper juice
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 5 shakes Tabasco
  • 6 grinds fresh ground pepper or more to taste


  1. Brine and smoke catfish according to recipe. While still warm, break fillets into pieces, removing any bones. Add cream cheese and mix well. Add ½ cup of the sour cream and mix well. Add the shallots, capers, caper juice, garlic and Tabasco. Taste for seasoning, add more sour cream at this point if the pate is a little dry or tastes a little salty. Adjust Tabasco and add freshly ground pepper to taste.
  2. Note: Do not add any salt to this dish because the brine and the smoke “salts” the fish before it is mixed into the pate.
  3. Let chill for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. Taste once more before serving and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve on the cold side of room temperature on homemade melba toast or your favorite crackers. Top with a dollop of sour cream and a garnish of chives or caviar, if desired.


Beer-Brined Smoked Catfish

 This catfish is terrific all by itself, but even better in the Smoked Catfish Pate!


  • Brine:
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cans cold beer (such as Budweiser)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground pepper
  • 6 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 4 large catfish fillets, about ¾ pound each
  • Olive oil
  • Wood chips soaked in water


  1. Dissolve salt and sugar in hot water. Add cold beer, pepper and bay leaves to make brine. Whisk well to remove some of the carbonation. Add two medium-size bowls of ice cubes to cool brine and add more volume to the brine. Add more cold water if more liquid is necessary to cover all the fillets. Place fish in brine when the brine is cool to the touch. Brine fish 2-4 hours covered, in the refrigerator. Remove fish from brine, rinse in cold water and air dry for 10 minutes before smoking.
  2. When ready to smoke, brush fish lightly with oil, place in center of cooking grate skin side down. Preferably, smoke in a Cameron Smoker for 20-30 minutes. The fish will be a dark caramel color. Alternatively, smoke cook on an outdoor grill for 1 hour or until fish is cooked through, caramel colored and smoked.
  3. Serve at room temperature or make into a smoked catfish “pate” by adding cream cheese, sour cream, shallots, capers, garlic, Tabasco and a dash of pepper to taste (see recipe).

Serves 4-6

StartersElizabeth Karmel