31 May 2015

DIY Smoked Mackerel Paté

For Christmas, my parents-in-law gave me a hot smoker. It is a great kitchen toy. It looks like a mess tin - one of those metal things that survivalists like Ray Mears eat from at picnics. You put some wood chippings in the bottom of the smoker, place a tray over the top and pop your food in. Shut the lid of the tin, and put the smoker on the stove, and leave it to smoke. You can buy a hot-smoker from any decent kitchen suppliers, and I've heard it is possible to make one out of a biscuit tin, or even a wok and some wooden chopsticks.

Oily fish is an obvious candidate for smoking, and mackerel is particularly fine. I am a big fan of mackerel, which is both cheap and plentiful, particularly during the summer months. Its oiliness takes the flavour of wood smoke particularly well. Having smoked a mackerel, making pate with it was the obvious thing. Although smoked mackerel paté is a deli staple, there is something fun about making it yourself. And frankly making it yourself does produce a particularly good paté. If you don't have a hot-smoker, you could always buy smoked mackerel fillets. Though that would be to miss out on half the fun.


One large or two medium-sized mackerel
100g butter
small bunch of chives
salt and pepper to taste

Remove the innards from the fish if your fishmonger hasn't already done this, and wash out the gut cavity. Cut off the head. Place some wood chips in the smoker, and put the fish on the tray.

Place the smoker on the stove. Leave the lid slightly off until you can see smoke. Once you can, close the lid fully, and turn the gas down to low. Smoke the fish for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Check that the fish is fully cooked by inserting a skewer into the flesh. The meat should feel soft until you hit bone.

Allow the fish to cool, until you can handle it comfortably. Pick the meat off the bones, ensuring that none of the bones are left in.

Place the fish in a food processor, along with 5 or 6 chive spears. Meanwhile, melt the butter over a low heat.

Pulse the fish in the food processor, and as you do so, pour in about half the butter. Pulse the paté until the butter has been emulsified into the fish.

Pack the pate into a sterilised 350ml preserving jar, or a large jam jar, removing as many air air pockets as possible.

Smooth out the top of the paté, and pour on the remains of the butter to create a seal. Refrigerate.

Covered in butter, the pate should last for a week in the fridge (though we always eat it long before a week is up). Once you break the butter seal, consume within three days. The pate is particularly tasty with toasted sourdough.

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