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Smoked mackerel pâté

smoked mackerel

I always enjoy my own cooking, but every so often I make something that is so sublime and wonderful that I feel, as Tobias would say, "like I could die for it".


I make no great claims for this being a great original recipe: it is a classic. But a few days ago, I had exactly that experience with this pâté. Perhaps it was just because I was hungry, or perhaps I was just craving these kinds of flavours: whatever the reason, after tasting a small amount to check the flavour, I could barely wait the two hours it took to chill before I spread it onto toast.


I include a recipe for an accompanying sharp salad, which I think contrasts nicely with the rich pâté, though you can, of course eat it all by itself.


Serves 4-6 as a starter, with toast


For the pâté

350g smoked mackerel fillets

juice of a lemon

120g crème fraîche

1.5 tbsp horseradish (the prepared sort that comes in jars)

lots of black pepper


For the salad

1 green apple, peeled and cored

half a cucumber

a few sprigs of dill

1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

1 tbsp mayonnaise



Remove the skin from the mackerel and break into large flakes, checking for and removing any bones as you do so. Put the fish into the bowl of a food processor along with the crème fraîche, horseradish, pepper and half the lemon juice.


Mix until creamy and smooth (or for a more textured pâté, mash up by hand, with a fork). Taste, and add more lemon juice, pepper or horseradish if you think it needs it. I usually add most of the rest of the lemon juice and an extra dollop of horseradish, but I do like my pâté sharper than most people, and hot enough to go up my nose and bring tears to my eyes.


Chill for a few hours. Shortly before serving, dice the cucumber and apple, roughly chop the dill and mix together with the vinegar and mayonnaise.


Serve the pâté with brown toast and the cucumber and apple salad on the side.

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