Your starter for 10: an old favourite returns in a pickle

Smoked mackerel pate chilli and pickles with vegetable salad
Smoked mackerel pate chilli and pickles with vegetable salad
La Petite Laurette du Midi Ros 2017

ALISTAIR GIBSON: Focusing on family, food and the perfect wines to match

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This week I’m sharing a recipe with you that has become possibly one of the longest-standing recipes we use on a daily basis.

You could even say it has become part of the furniture.

It is a canapé recipe that we cannot bring ourselves to take off the canapé plate as it is just so good and the one that gets plentiful feedback. Most people agree with us that it’s the best of a tasty bunch.

It is a smoked mackerel pâté that we serve with a lemon gel in a poppy seed puff pastry. However, we have engineered a slightly simpler version with some lovely garnishes that will elevate it to restaurant-style standard.

We break down the mackerel with a fork and making sure all the bones are out, mix it with some cream cheese and a turn or two of black pepper. Then you bring it all together with the back of a fork.

As the dish is quite rich, something acidic is needed to balance the flavour and we thought it would be lovely to lightly pickle some vegetables. They will be enough to counter the richness from the pâté.

There are various ways of serving the pâté – you can pot it in a jar or put a nice big dollop on some really crusty bread.

If you don’t make your own bread for this recipe then be sure to support your local baker and grab a loaf from there as fresh bread from a baker cannot be beaten in my opinion.

So you now have a couple of options as to how you can serve the pâté. It really is quite adaptable but once you try it I am sure you will start finding excuses to make it, so be adventurous.




Mixing bowl

Small pickling bowl


Chopping board

Vegetable slicer (optional)

Sharp knife

Serving pot (for potting)

Serving dishes

Black pepper mill


Cling film

Kitchen towel

Ingredients (serves four):

1 crusty loaf (rustic)

4 fillets smoked mackerel

8oz cream cheese

1 carrot, peeled

1 sweet onion, peeled

1 beetroot, peeled

1 romano pepper

Half cucumber, peeled

1 small red chilli, finely sliced

Quarter pint white wine vinegar

Quarter pint water

1 heaped teaspoon sugar


1 punnet mustard cress

Pickling the vegetables:

Make a minimum of 12 hours in advance. Take all the vegetables and slice, wafer thin, and mix in the pickling bowl with chilli. In the small saucepan take the vinegar, water and sugar, bring to a simmer and pour over the vegetables. Cover with cling film and leave for 12 hours at room temperature.

Mackerel pate:

Take the fillets, remove the skin and all the bones and place in the second bowl. Add the cream cheese and gently break down with a fork. Bring together, add a couple of turns of black pepper. Place in serving bowl, individual or a big one. Then refrigerate.

To serve:

Drain vegetables with the sieve, and place on kitchen towel. When ready to serve make a bundle out of the vegetables to accompany the potted pate with a hunk of crusty bread. To finish serve with a glug of olive oil and a scattering of the cress.