Smoked Mackerel Pâté

Smoked Mackerel Pâté
Mackerel is my favourite whole smoked fish. This recipe has been in my family for over 30 years and was one of the first things I ever learnt to cook. I have very fond memories of days spent with my grandpa, mastering the art of making chutney and smoked mackerel pâté. It’s superb with a spiced damson chutney and slices of apple.

Makes – 400g (14oz) pâté


  • 1 whole mackerel, gutted
  • 25g (scant 1oz) sea salt
  • 25g (scant 1oz) caster sugar
  • 100g (3½oz) crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp horseradish sauce
  • pinch of cracked black pepper


  • fish tweezers
  • cold smoker
  • 4 tbsp oak sawdust
  • tray
  • ice cubes

Smoked Mackerel Pâté Method

  1. Remove the head and tail of the mackerel, then lay the fish on its side and slice cleanly along the belly (fig. a). Give the fish a rinse in some cold running water, then pat dry with kitchen paper.

    fig. a
  2. Press down on the backbone to flatten out the fish, then turn it over so that it is skin-side down and snip the backbone away from the flesh with scissors. Remove any further bones with fish tweezers.
  3. Place the butterflied mackerel in a dish and sprinkle with the sea salt and sugar (fig. b), then cover and leave to cure in the fridge for 30 minutes–1 hour.

    fig. b
  4. Rinse the fish to remove the cure, pat dry with kitchen paper, then leave on a wire rack in a cool, well-ventilated place to air-dry for 1 hour while preparing the cold smoker.
  5. Prime the smoker by tightly packing the oak sawdust in a spiral and allowing a dense smoke to form. Place the fish in the smoker on a wire rack, allowing good air circulation around it and adding a tray of ice underneath to keep the temperature below 30°C (85°F). Smoke for 6–8 hours.
  6. Once smoked, make the pâté. Remove the fish skin, break up the smoked mackerel, and combine with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, horseradish sauce, and black pepper. Mash with a fork to a coarse pâté texture (fig. c) and serve with crackers or toast. Keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

    fig. c

Expert Tips:

  • Those less experienced at preparing fi sh can use ready filleted mackerel for this recipe. Alternatively, ask your fish monger to butterfly the fi]sh for you.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of crushed peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of grated horseradish root and rub onto the fish to add more warmth to the smoked mackerel flavour.

Recipes extracted from The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge, Published by DK Books, RRP $49.99 AUD/  $55 NZD

The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge


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