easy smoked fish pâté with Melba toast

smoked fish pate

I make a scrumptious chicken liver pâté but when I fancy a change I make this smoked fish pate with salmon, trout or mackerel.

I love the fact that most of the ingredients are things I have to hand all the time. So I can throw it together without much planning. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the health benefits of oily fish, nor do I need to tell you how delicious salmon, cream cheese and pickles are together on a bagel. I took that idea and refined it by adding a little more complexity to the flavour (but very little complexity to the technique) to come up with this recipe.

Great for packed lunches and all sorts of other occasions
This recipe is so easy but so good. It is a delight to have a pot of this in the fridge ready for lunch and it will happily keep in the fridge for a week. My kids love it too. It has been great to have in their sandwiches (a good change from cheese or hummus) and I also stir some through hot pasta with peas and watercress or asparagus for a quick dinner. It makes a great appetizer too when served alongside my pickled vegetables and crispy capers and bread.

The Melba toast I serve it with was something my grandma always made when she had guests. It is a great technique and is a quick way of creating, rather than buying, crackers to serve with all manner of toppings.

Be fancy if you fancy
If you want to be very fancy, you can make a terrine by doubling (or tripling) the recipe below. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap then place sheets of smoked salmon inside the wrap and spoon the pâté in. When the loaf pan is full, cover and pop in the fridge overnight.

Store it
You can also freeze it, be sure to freeze it in a narrow necked container to reduce exposure to air. Defrost it overnight in the fridge.

Active prep time: 10 minutes

Cooks notes:
• If you are dairy-free, use homemade or good quality mayonnaise in place of the cream cheese and crème fraîche

• Crème fraîche is a cultured cream. Less sour than sour cream and a great ingredient that you’ll find in many French and English recipes. It doesn’t curdle when added to sauces and is a delicious, less cloying alternative to heavy cream in sweet dishes. I love it on scones with jam or with fruit crumble
• If you can’t find crème fraîche you can use double the amount of cream cheese or make your own crème fraîche. Combine 1 pint heavy cream with 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and leave at room temperature for around 12 hours before refrigerating for up to 2 weeks.

Ingredients (serves 4-6 people for sandwiches):
100g (3.5oz) full fat cream cheese (or mayo)
100g (3.5oz) crème fraîche (see note above)
200g (7oz) wild smoked salmon, or smoked trout or smoked mackerel
zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ to 1 tablespoon of horseradish cream or Dijon mustard
optional – 2 tablespoons chopped chives, dill, basil, flaked cooked salmon or flaked hot smoked salmon
freshly ground pepper to taste

To serve:
Bread – regular or melba toast.
Pickles – cornichon and or a selection of quick pickled veg and fried or plain capers
Greens – micro greens look beautiful with this, you could use herb flowers too

To make:
1. Either combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste. Or mix the cheese, crème fraîche and seasonings together by hand before folding in the finely chopped fish. Either way, check for seasoning and adjust the acid (lemon), heat (mustard, pepper, horseradish) and salt

2. Pour into a narrow necked jar or bowl. The narrow neck is to reduce the amount on surface area and therefore reduce the amount of air that will get to the surface of the pâté. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or overnight before serving spread on toast, scattered with pickles and greens then cut into fingers

3. To make Melba toast, toast both sides of a slice of bread then, using a bread knife and a towel to protect your holding hand, split the bread in half through the middle so you have two very thin pieces of bread. Toast the newly exposed soft side until golden. Serve immediately or make ahead and re-crisp in an oven for a few minutes.


You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.

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