Monday, September 26

Smoked Mackerel & Horseradish Pâté, Pickled Cucumber

I almost didn't blog this as it is so simple and a bit of a gastropub staple, but it is just so delicious, truly one of my favourite pâtés (if indeed it is a pâté). Really great for lunch with hot buttered toast or as a starter for a more elaborate dinner. I have also been known to have this as a late night snack but be warned......a snoring husband who smells of fish really annoys the wife.  For four:

Quality smoked mackerel - 4 fillets
Fresh horseradish, peeled & grated - 2tbsp
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Cream cheese - 100g
Parsley - small handful roughly chopped
Rice or white wine vinegar - 100ml
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Cucumber - 1
Quality sourdough and butter for spreading
Salt and pepper

Using a potato peeler, peel ribbons off the cucumber lengthways until you reach the seeds in the centre. Rotate the cucumber 90 degrees and repeat until you have 'peeled' the whole thing and are left with a core of seeds - chuck this away. In a colander lightly salt the cucumber ribbons for 30 mins, then rinse and set aside. Heat the vinegar and sugar until dissolved then allow to cool.  Taste the vinegar mix - if your vinegar is a bit acidic (by this I mean cheap!) you may need more sugar to compensate - you want a nice sweet/sour balance. Toss together the cucumber and vinegar mix and allow to marinade in the fridge for an hour or two.

Meanwhile skin and remove any bones from the mackerel. Blitz the fish, cream cheese, horseradish, lemon zest, juice, parsley and a good pinch of salt and pepper until really smooth - scrape the edges of the bowl to ensure all is really well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning - add more horseradish as well if you feel the need.

Toast and butter your bread, drain your cucumber and serve. You can use two spoons to daintily 'quenelle' your pâté as in the photo, neatly portion into a ramekin or just blob it on the plate depending on your sensibilities.

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