Otter Pâté

“Vidrapástétom : Otter Pâté” 

Submitted by: 

Lászlo Bartosiewicz,
Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Lorand Eotvos University, Hungary 

Adapted from: 

Vasváry, Gy, ed. 1840. Czifray István szakács mester magyar szakácskönyve. (The cookbook of the master chef István Czifray). Sixth edition. Petróczai Trattner and Károlyi Publishers, Pest. Recipe 1017:p. 343. 

Butchery and Ethnographic Info: 

The smelly meat of carnivorous mammals is avoided in modern day Hungary. In this recipe, however, such a “non-terrestrial tetrapod”, otter (Lutra lutra L. 1758), is used in combination with both freshwater and marine fish, carp (Cyprinus carpio L. 1758) and anchovy (Engraulis cf. Encrasicolus L. 1758). Otter meat did not fall under dietary restrictions surrounding Lent in the Middle Ages. Edward Topsell noted in 1607, that otter is “dressed to be eaten in many places in Germany, and…Carthusian Fryars and Monkes…are forbidden to touch all manner of flesh, of other four-footed beasts, yet they are not prohibited the eating of otters.” 

** note from contributor: “If Chris can do mammal recipes, so can I!” 


For the Filling: 

  • Otter (when you clean and de-bone the otter, reserve the liver and lungs) 
  • Carp (broiled and cooled, bones removed) 
  • Anchovy fillets 
  • Red onion, finely chopped 
  • Assorted vegetables, finely chopped 
  • Lemon peel 
  • Butter 

For the Marinade: 

  • Vinegar 
  • Wine 
  • Water 
  • Onions 
  • Thyme 
  • Bayleaf 
  • Lemon peel 

For the Crust: 

  • ľ lbs flour 
  • Salt 
  • ˝ lbs butter 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • Sour cream 


Mix together the ingredients for the marinade. Boil the liquid and pour it over the otter meat, which is left in it to soak for two days. Drain and chop the meat. For the dough, spread the lightly salted flour on a board and add the butter to it by hand. When it is blended, flatten the dough with a rolling pin; add the two egg yolks and as much sour cream as it takes to moisturize the mix. Distribute these ingredients evenly, with a large knife. The dough however should not ever be allowed to become hard. Avoid handling it too much. Roll it out three times as thin as possible, always folding it into four. Do not sprinkle it with more flour than what is necessary to prevent it from sticking. This dough can be used for anything you like. Chop up the broiled carp and the liver and lungs of the otter. Throw these onto hot butter and add the red onion and vegetables and lemon peel. Cover and steam it, then mix in the anchovies. Place this along with the otter meat into a dish lined with the piecrust and cover it with the same dough. Smear the top with a glaze of egg yolk and bake it in the oven. You can serve it with a nice gravy.