Food and drink

Quick and easy smoked mackerel pate

After 2 months of sitting on my backside due to a knee injury and the arrival of all that white stuff on the ground I decided last night to get back in the game. So as soon as I got home it was into the track suit and I cleared some space in the spare room for the little rowing machine we’ve got (still too much snow in Banchory for me to brave running). But before I got stuck in I needed to decide on what to eat for tea afterwards. It needed to be something I can prepare quickly, preferably beforehand and leave it while I do my session and is quite light as the last thing I want after exercise is a big meal.

I always see smoked mackerel fillets in the supermarket, but aside from fish cakes never really thought of anything to do with them. They’re delicious on their own of course, with a very sweet flavour and I could happily eat a whole packet for dinner (would be good sprinkled with lemon juice with some new tatties and some spring onions I think). But it’s not very exciting and doesn’t seem worthy of a blog like this (like I have standards all of a sudden).

As usual the BBC Good Food site was a valuable source of inspiration. Ok, I didn’t use a recipe from there in the end but it’s recipe search is fantastic. I just typed smoked mackerel in and browsed the 3 pages of results until I saw something that would fit the bill. The winner in the end was the pate. After reading a few more recipes on some other sites it looked like the most common ingredients, excluding the fish, were soft cheese, horseradish, lemon juice and parsley. No cooking involved, just mix it all together and whizz it up. Perfect!

It only took me 5 minutes to knock the pate together and I left in the fridge to cook while I went through my session. Afterwards, a little bit knackered and with my legs feeling like jelly, I settled down to eat it with a couple of slices of golden brown toast. I can’t really believe how easy and tasty it was. I’m now seriously tempted to make this for the Christmas day starter instead of the chicken liver pate I was planning to do just because it’s so easy.

Sorry about the rubbish picture that you see on this page. I really need to get a better system for taking photos of the food. I spent ages faffing around with the pate, taking loads of pictures and I’m still not happy with any of them. Part of the problem is I can’t really get excited about the process of photography and setting up lighting, dressing the scene. I just want to cook the food and write about it. The picture is necessary only to illustrate the blog and show the final product but I’d rather spend the time making my writing better than making the pictures better. Anyone got any tips? If I can just get an easy way of having half decent light, with minimal shadow in a normal kitchen so I can quickly take an acceptable picture on my little Canon then forget I’d be happy. I could just take the picture, sit down and eat the food.

Serves 2
1 pack smoked mackerel fillets
140g soft cheese (mascarpone, cream cheese, any low-fat variation or you could try it with cream or mayonnaise instead)
3 teaspoons creamed horseradish
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Parsley, chopped (guess you want about a tablespoon)

Remove the skin from the mackerel fillets, break them up into a bowl and flake with a fork.
Stir in the cheese, horseradish, a squeeze of lemon, parsley, a pinch of salt and plenty of pepper.
You can leave it quite rough and rustic at this point or whizz it up in a blender so it becomes a smooth pate.
Spoon into individual ramekins and leave in the fridge to chill.
Serve with toast or oatcakes.

1 thought on “Quick and easy smoked mackerel pate”

  1. I love smoked mackerel and sm pate, sounds like you use BBC Good Food same way I do, a bit of inspiration and then do your own thing lol!

    As for the photography, it is difficult in the winter when the light isn’t good. My answer was to remodel my kitchen so I had a breakfast bar nearer the window and some really outstanding lithium lights under my kitchen cupboards, oh and buy a DSLR :p yes a bit extreme just for a good photo. Of course that wasn’t why I did it, upgrading to a better camera was influenced by my blogging, the rest was just good fortune!

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