‘Bring food that pairs with sake!’ my friend said, as he invited us to a sake tasting to try some of the bottles he’s brought back from Japan recently. But what goes well with sake? With no further guidance I turned to Google where I found the advice that oily fish can work well with this classic Japanese alcohol.
Immediately, I thought of smoked mackerel pate – one of the simplest dishes in my repertoire, easy to scale up (or down) and great for all kinds of situations. It works as a starter plated elegantly with melba toast; it’s good to include in a selection of dips and spreads for an informal drinks gathering; it’s also delicious as a sandwich filling or on a jacket potato.
To add a little Japanese flavour I substituted the horseradish I usually use with wasabi – an ingredient closely related to both horseradish and mustard, with a similar flavour profile and heat.
The Smoked Mackerel & Wasabi Paté received many compliments, for which I was a little embarrassed given the simplicity of the recipe, but sometimes simple really is best.
Don’t worry too much if your supermarket sells smoked mackerel or crème fraiche in slightly different quantities – as long as you are reasonably close to the ratios below, the recipe will work just fine.
Smoked Mackerel & Wasabi Paté
This paté is very quick to make and perfect to take along to social gatherings when you’ve been asked to bring something that doesn’t need cooking or heating once there. If making to take to a party, I double or triple the quantities below. If not being eaten straight away, store in the fridge until needed. It will last 2-3 days.
200 grams smoked mackerel
150 ml crème fraiche
1-2 tablespoons (or to taste) wasabi powder
Note: If you don’t have wasabi powder use wasabi paste. If you can’t find either, fresh or creamed horseradish shares a similar flavour profile, as does mustard. Whichever of the three you use – since pungency is variable – add a little, mix and taste, then add more if needed.
- Peel the skins away from the mackerel fillets – they should come away very easily.
- Use your fingers or a fork to break up the fish into a mixing bowl before adding the crème fraiche.
- Use a fork to combine, breaking down any larger pieces of mackerel as you work and continue to work the mixture until the fish is thoroughly broken down and distributed through the crème fraiche.
- Add wasabi to taste and mix thoroughly again to ensure it is evenly distributed. I recommend adding about a tablespoon, mixing well and tasting before adding more.
- Serve with toast or crackers, or refrigerate until needed.
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I have another similarly simple smoked fish paté recipe to share with you soon but do let me know how you like this one!