“I’ve sung the praises of mackerel, highlighting just what a versatile fish it is, in other recipes, and here I have another version. For this recipe, you can smoke the mackerel yourself or have a fishmonger fillet a whole smoked mackerel for you – but I’ve got to say, the supermarkets’ smoked mackerel fillets are not bad at all, especially if you don’t have access to a fishmonger,” says chef Tom Kitchin.
“I love to make this in the summer and keep it in the fridge, as it makes the perfect garden lunch. What I also always have in the fridge is a jar of these delicious pickled cucumbers from my family’s good Swedish friend, Heléne. They’re absolutely delicious on just about anything, and I often also serve them as a garnish on crackers or in sandwiches. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Heléne.”
Smoked mackerel pâté with pickled cucumbers
- Blender or food processor
- Mixing bowl
- Preserving jars
- Non-metallic bowl
- Heavy-based saucepan
- 400 g smoked mackerel fillets skinned
- 200 g cream cheese
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche
- 1 lemon halved
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
- oatcakes optional, to serve
- sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
For Hélène’s pickled cucumbers
- 500 ml water
- 100 g sugar
- 100 ml white wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 350 g cucumber
- First, make the pâté, which needs to chill for at least one hour, but will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to three days. Break the mackerel fillets into a blender or food processor, double checking carefully for any small bones. Add the cream cheese, crème fraîche and a squeeze of lemon, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the pâté among preserving jars and bang the jars on the counter to dispel any air. Place in the fridge for at least one hour, or until required.
- Next make the pickled cucumber. Allow enough time for the brine to cool and the cucumbers to sit in the brine for least two hours at room temperature and then chill for at least an hour before serving, but they will keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to two days. Place the water, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then set aside and leave to cool completely.
- Once the brine is cool, pour it into a non-metallic bowl. Cut the cucumbers into 0.5cm-thick slices, add to the brine and leave for two hours, then transfer to the fridge if not using immediately.
- When you’re ready to serve, remove the cucumber slices from the brine and pat dry. Spread the pâté on pickled cucumber slices and serve with oatcakes on the side, if you like.
Tom Kitchin’s Fish And Shellfish by Tom Kitchin, photography by Marc Miller, is published by Absolute Press.
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