Pâté chinois

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Pâté chinois
Pâté chinois.jpg
A pâté chinois; half nibblets, half cream corn
TypeSavoury pie
Place of originCanada
Main ingredientsGround beef, onions, maize or creamed corn, mashed potatoes, vinegar

Pâté chinois (pronounced [pɑte ʃinwa], French for "Chinese pie") is a French Canadian dish similar to English shepherd's pie or French hachis Parmentier.


A plate of Pâté Chinois, with pickled beets and a Maple leaf cookie.

The dish is made with layered ground beef (sometimes mixed with sautéed diced onions) on the bottom layer, canned corn (either whole-kernel, creamed, or a mix) for the middle layer, and mashed potatoes on top. Seasonings may be added to the top. Variations may include reversing the layering of ingredients with potatoes at the bottom, then meat, topped with cream corn; adding diced bell peppers to the ground beef, and serving the dish with pickled eggs or beets. Once served, ketchup may be added.

Name origins[edit]

Pâté chinois is not a Chinese recipe. It may simply be an adaptation of "Shepherd's Pie", but one possible explanation for the Chinese reference is that it was introduced to Canadian railway workers by Chinese cooks during the building of the North American railroads in the late 19th century.[citation needed] These cooks made it under instruction from the railway bosses (of British origin) as an easily prepared, inexpensive version of the popular cottage pie, with the sauce in the tinned creamed corn serving as a substitute for the gravy.

The French Canadian railway workers became fond of it and brought the recipe back with them to their home communities. From there, it was brought to the textile mill communities of Maine (Lewiston and Biddeford), New Hampshire (Manchester), Massachusetts (e.g., Lowell and Lawrence) and Rhode Island (Woonsocket) where many French Canadians immigrated to work in the mills during the early 20th century.

Another origin story has the dish connected to the town of South China, Maine.

Cultural references[edit]

In the Québécois humorous television program La Petite Vie, pâté chinois is used to show one of the characters' abysmal lack of common sense as she regularly fails to properly prepare it, for example, by laying the three ingredients side by side instead of layering them, or forgetting to mash the potatoes.

See also[edit]