Hot Smoked Peppered Mackerel Pate

by Elizabeth Atia -

Fish did not become a regular part of my diet until I became a parent and I really started to pay attention to what I was feeding myself and my family. I wanted to make sure my growing children were getting a full range of nutrients from a varied, healthy diet. Oily fish is well known for its vitamin D and healthy fats, essential for brain development and bone growth, and mackerel is one of the best natural sources of these nutrients. The Food Standards Agency recommend you eat at least two portions of fish per week, and one of them should be an oily fish.

The thing with mackerel though, is the bones. I'm not so keen on the bones. Shudder. I still have that childhood phobia of getting a fish bone stuck in my throat. Mackerel isn't as bad as some of the other fish, but the phobia is still there, although it's getting better with fish eating experience. Thankfully, I've not yet had the misfortune of experiencing a fish bone in the throat, and I'm starting to think my fears are unfounded. One of the first ways I began adding mackerel to our diet was in pate form, that way we'd get all of the nutrients and none of the bones!

The Bonhoga cafe in Weisdale makes the best mackerel pate I've tasted in Shetland. I like my pate smooth and peppery (that way you can see the bones if they are present!), served with oatcakes and a nice side salad. Sitting in the Bonhoga cafe with the sun streaming through the window as you eat a healthy lunch is pure heaven (especially if there's cake and coffee afterwards!).

I regularly make my own mackerel pate at home too. It is a simple, lower fat recipe which is a firm favourite with my children (and myself!).

A good mackerel pate starts with high quality Shetland mackerel, and my personal favourite is the hot smoked peppered mackerel fillets from McNabs Kippers in Lerwick. They also supply quite a few of the rural shops, including my local one, meaning I don't need to nip into town every time I fancy some mackerel. You could, if you prefer a milder taste, use their regular smoked mackerel.

Of course, to accompany the Shetland mackerel you need Shetland oatcakes (pictured below: Sandwick Bakery oatcakes), Shetland butter and the very best salad I've ever had in my entire life: mixed salad leaves from Transition Turriefield. I am one of the 25 fortunate people on the west side of Shetland who gets a weekly vegetable box delivery from Turriefield, and one of the things I really look forward to is the fresh salad. It doesn't even need a dressing as it's so packed full of flavour and vitality; the perfect accompaniment to a Shetland mackerel and oatcakes lunch.

Hot Smoked Peppered Mackerel Pate

Course: Main

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

  • Hot smoked peppered mackerel - 225 grams
  • Low fat cottage cheese - 200 grams
  • Lemon - 1/2 (juice only)
  • Freshly ground black pepper - (to taste)
  1. Remove skin from the mackerel and place in a food processor along with the cottage cheese. Squeeze in the lemon juice and blitz until it reaches your desired consistency. I like mine smooth, but others prefer a chunkier pate.
  2. Season with more freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
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