Sardine & Cod Liver Pâté

Chances are, you probably take cod liver oil (or have in the past, are planning to in the future, know someone who does…)

So, you’re probably aware of the amazing benefits1 attributed to this superfood:

  • It contains large amounts of Vitamins A, D, and Omega-3 fatty acids – in ideal ratios that work in synergy to improve their assimilation by the body.
  • It’s highly anti-inflammatory – cod liver oil was the ancient “arthritis cream”.2
  • Vitamin A reduces oxidative stress, boosts immunity, and supports vision, cellular growth, and reproductive function.3
  • Vitamin D may prevent Type 1 diabetes, hypertension, and many common cancers4,5. It’s essential for muscle function, immunity, and cardiac health.6
  • Studies show it to lower high cholesterol and high triglycerides.2
  • It’s helpful in treating depression.7
  • It may lower risk for autoimmunity and immune-related disorders such as allergies, asthma, and ear infections.
  • It helps to maintain bone health, acting in synergy with minerals such as calcium.8

What you may not realize: historically, this traditional powerhouse was primarily consumed from the whole food. Fresh cod livers were a dietary staple when they were available. The Vikings weren’t dosing out their CLO with syringes or spoons from dark amber bottles, and they more than likely weren’t fermenting them, either. Although the oil was produced by the ancient Europeans, it was likely a matter of convenience, seasonality and medicinal application: they would use the oil to rub on sore joints (it’s highly anti-inflammatory). When it came to consumption, the default method was the freshly-harvested, whole cod liver.

Although we typically don’t have the means of harvesting our own gadidae livers, there is a modern alternative: canned cod liver. Yes! It exists, and better yet, it’s absolutely delicious.

Wait, what?! Ok, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve probably had to hold your nose while forcing down your daily dose, unless you’ve been choking down the horse-size gel-caps. You may not appreciate the “fish burps” that accompany that daily dose (which, by the way, may mean that you are low in stomach acid – but we’ll save that for another article). It’s not the tastiest, best-smelling substance in the universe, and it’s certainly not something you’d whip up in an appetizer to serve to guests.

But, hold up. This applies to commercially-produced, shelf-stable cod liver oil (most notably the olfactorily-potent fermented kind) and not the fresh-from-the-sea whole food. A delicacy in Eastern Europe, cod liver is still sold in almost every European market – chances are, you can pick it up in your city right now. It comes in cans, like this one:

As is the case with virtually all whole foods, canned whole cod liver may be even more beneficial than its extracted counterpart, and it’s certainly a lot more palatable.

If you don’t have a European market close by, you can pick up canned cod liver on Amazon – we like this brand. You’ll want to ensure that the only ingredients are cod liver, salt, and whole food seasonings (such as bay leaf). The oil contained in these cans is the real deal – fresh and unadulterated, extruded from the liver in the canning process. The heat used in this method doesn’t appear to adversely affect the final oil’s composition9. It smells fresh and delicious, and the taste is extremely mild.

The recipes below use all of the oil in the can. You can use less, though, if you like. It makes a delicious addition to vinaigrettes, especially mustard-based ones – and you can add it in almost any savory recipe that calls for a mild oil, as long as you don’t cook with it. (We’ve added it to dressings, dips, mayonnaise, egg salad – even guacamole!) Treat it as you would any other fragile, easily oxidized Omega-3 oil. The oil itself will keep for about 1 week in the fridge; it goes rancid quickly if not preserved, which can be easily accomplished by adding vinegar or lemon juice, which will add another week or two to its shelf life.

Less is more with this nutrient-dense food, so don’t go overboard. We stick to consumption 2-3 times per week. This has replaced our daily cod liver oil supplement, and we still reap the benefits.

Cod liver and its oil can act like a blood thinner, so those taking anticoagulant or blood pressure medication should discuss supplementation with their nutritionist or healthcare provider.

 


More Resources

For more information on the benefits of cod liver and its oil (and where to find it), visit these links:

 

Have you tried canned cod liver? Do you have any recipes you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!


OriginalDairy-FreeLow Glutamate
5 from 1 vote
Sardine & Cod Liver Pâté
Sardine & Cod Liver Pâté
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Yes, we know what you're thinking. But we promise, this is absolutely delicious. Let's call it "ethical foie gras" - the sort made with some of the most nutritious foods on the planet - infused with garlic, lemon, and love.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French, Russian
Servings: 8
Calories: 180 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Ghee , or olive oil
  • 1 small shallot , minced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 (6 oz) can sardines , packed in oil, no additives
  • 1 (7 oz) can canned cod liver , find it locally at Russian or European markets, or follow link to order online
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 lemon , zest and juice of
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp fish sauce , Red Boat, or another additive/sugar free brand
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, heat ghee and saute minced shallot and garlic until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from heat.

  2. Drain the can of cod liver, reserving the oil.

  3. Add the sardines, drained cod liver, lemon juice/zest, fish sauce, shallots/garlic, and egg yolk to a food processor and process until smooth.

  4. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the reserved cod liver oil in a steady stream until incorporated (as if you were making mayonnaise). The final consistency should be very soft and creamy.

  5. Serve immediately. This will keep about 2 days in the fridge.

We’ve adjusted the recipe as follows:

  • Use olive oil (or another healthy fat of choice) instead of ghee.
Sardine & Cod Liver Pâté (Dairy Free)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Yes, we know what you're thinking. But we promise, this is absolutely delicious. Let's call it "ethical foie gras" - the sort made with some of the most nutritious foods on the planet - infused with garlic, lemon, and love.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French, Russian
Servings: 8
Calories: 180 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot , minced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 (6 oz) can sardines , packed in oil, no additives
  • 1 (7 oz) can canned cod liver , find it locally at Russian or European markets, or follow link to order online
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 lemon , zest and juice of
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp fish sauce , Red Boat, or another additive/sugar free brand
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, heat olive oil and saute minced shallot and garlic until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from heat.

  2. Drain the can of cod liver, reserving the oil.

  3. Add the sardines, drained cod liver, lemon juice/zest, fish sauce, shallots/garlic, and egg yolk to a food processor and process until smooth.

  4. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the reserved cod liver oil in a steady stream until incorporated (as if you were making mayonnaise). The final consistency should be very soft and creamy.

  5. Serve immediately. This will keep about 2 days in the fridge.

We’ve adjusted the recipe as follows:

  • Omit fish sauce.

More Information:

  • Traditionally-fermented fish sauce contains high amounts of naturally-occurring free glutamate, which concentrates during the fermentation process. Individuals following a low-glutamate diet should exercise caution when adding fish sauce and other foods high in naturally-occurring free glutamate.
Sardine & Cod Liver Pâté (Low Glutamate)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Yes, we know what you're thinking. But we promise, this is absolutely delicious. Let's call it "ethical foie gras" - the sort made with some of the most nutritious foods on the planet - infused with garlic, lemon, and love.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: French, Russian
Servings: 8
Calories: 180 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp Ghee , or olive oil
  • 1 small shallot , minced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 (6 oz) can sardines , packed in oil, no additives
  • 1 (7 oz) can canned cod liver , find it locally at Russian or European markets, or follow link to order online
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 lemon , zest and juice of
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, heat ghee and saute minced shallot and garlic until softened and beginning to brown. Remove from heat.

  2. Drain the can of cod liver, reserving the oil.

  3. Add the sardines, drained cod liver, lemon juice/zest, shallots/garlic, and egg yolk to a food processor and process until smooth.

  4. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the reserved cod liver oil in a steady stream until incorporated (as if you were making mayonnaise). The final consistency should be very soft and creamy.

  5. Serve immediately. This will keep about 2 days in the fridge.

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References

1.
12 Amazing Benefits of Cod Liver Oil. Organic Facts. https://www.organicfacts.net/cod-liver-oil.html. Published November 23, 2012. Accessed February 18, 2018.
2.
Vermel’ A. [Clinical application of omega-3-fatty acids (cod-liver oil)]. Klin Med (Mosk). 2005;83(10):51-57. [PubMed]
3.
Vitamin A. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-a/. Published September 18, 2012. Accessed February 18, 2018.
4.
Sanz M. Treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. January 2006:147-155. [PubMed]
5.
Holick M. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006;81(3):353-373. [PubMed]
6.
Marchioli R, Barzi F, Bomba E, et al. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction: time-course analysis of the results of the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)-Prevenzione. Circulation. 2002;105(16):1897-1903. [PubMed]
7.
Raeder M, Steen V, Vollset S, Bjelland I. Associations between cod liver oil use and symptoms of depression: the Hordaland Health Study. J Affect Disord. 2007;101(1-3):245-249. [PubMed]
8.
Macdonald H, Mavroeidi A, Barr R, Black A, Fraser W, Reid D. Vitamin D status in postmenopausal women living at higher latitudes in the UK in relation to bone health, overweight, sunlight exposure and dietary vitamin D. Bone. 2008;42(5):996-1003. [PubMed]
9.
Kołakowska A, Stypko K, Domiszewski Z, Bienkiewicz G, Perkowska A, Witczak A. Canned cod liver as a source of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, with a reference to contamination. Nahrung. 2002;46(1):40-45. [PubMed]

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