We are just entering the season for mackerel, which begin to arrive at our shores in April/May and are with us until September/October. Mackerel fishing is an essential ingredient of family boating holidays and the fish are wonderful barbecued on balmy summer evenings.
However, to avoid depleting stock levels you should avoid catching fresh mackerel before June or July, before when they are spawning. In any case, our weather at the moment seems to be far from suitable for a leisurely day’s boating!
So for those that simply can’t wait, smoked mackerel provides a delicious alternative to fresh mackerel. It is extremely versatile and makes wonderful simple suppers see Thomasina Miers’ recipes for good suggestions, but one of my favourite recipes is the seriously more-ish smoked mackerel pâté. This is great as a really scrumptious first course with melba toast, or as an accompaniment to drinks with crudités. It also makes a delicious sandwich filling (with a small amount of chilli for the more adventurous among you). I’d advise making a rather large quantity to keep in the fridge and live off for a couple of days – it’s surprising how many times you’ll find yourself gravitating towards the fridge for a quick snack.
Smoked Mackerel Paté
1 pack of smoked mackerel fillets (approx. 250g)
200g cream cheese
150ml double cream
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1. Peel the skins off the mackerel fillets and put them in a bowl
2. Add the cream cheese, followed by the double cream and lemon juice to taste (probably about ½ lemon)
3. Mix all the ingredients together and blend in a food processor
4. Add salt and pepper to taste and chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours (if time allows, otherwise you can serve immediately)
5. Serve with melba toast. For a twist on this recipe add creamed horseradish to taste