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Take Me To Your Mackerel

I could justifiably have hung a sign on my door that read “Gone Fishin’.”

I was making a trek across the city to Donnybrook Fair and smoked mackerel would, I hoped, be my reward. I was on the trail of mackerel from Inish Turk Beg, a privately owned and faintly mysterious island off the coast of Mayo. A tasting of their newly available range of smoked fish earlier that week had left mackerel on my mind, and I was heading to the one place in the city that could provide me with that particular smoky fix.

Inish Turk Beg smoked mackerel

Inish Turk Beg smoked mackerel

It was with some delight, then, that I had realised that the number 10 bus would take me straight to my mackerel dealer. It was with no small degree of sadness that, upon boarding, I discovered that the number 10 was reaching the end of its well-worn route. The bus, which, all those years ago, had ferried me to and from my first grotty student flat, would deposit its last passengers at the end of that day. My fishing trip was turning into a trip down memory lane.

Number 10 bus

The Number 10: Last chance to see

As the bus traced its way across the city, my mind wandered back to a time when smoked mackerel was the furthest thing from my student diet and fish fingers were more my style. I arrived at my stop, secured a good smoky catch and waited for one last bus to bring me home.

As I alighted at the other end, I watched, for a moment, as the bus continued on its last, heavily punctuated journey. I smiled a goodbye smile and couldn’t help but borrow the words of Douglas Adams: so long, number 10, and thanks for all the fish.

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Smoked Mackerel Pâté With Ginger

Smoked mackerel pate

Well, after all of that, I wanted to do something with my mackerel that would be worthy of the effort involved in acquiring it. Of course, you really don’t want to do much, if anything, to good smoked mackerel before you get down to the business of eating it, so smoked mackerel pâté, where the fish is simply blended into a paste, fit the bill nicely. For this pâté, in addition to some sour cream, I’ve mixed the mackerel with ginger and spring onions, both of which complement it very well.

You’ll need:
  • 200g smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed
  • 4 tblsp sour cream
  • 6 spring onions, white and green parts sliced (around 75g sliced spring onion)
  • 2 tsp very finely grated root ginger
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • toasted rye or wholewheat bread or crackers to serve
You’ll also need:
  • A food processor to blend everything together
The Steps:
  • Flake the mackerel and remove any stray bones.
  • Add the mackerel, sour cream, spring onions, ginger, rice vinegar and a few twists of black pepper to the bowl of your food processor and blend until well combined. Taste and add more pepper, ginger and/or vinegar if to your taste.
  • Serve with toast or crackers and get spreading.
The Variations:
  • You can replace the sour cream with natural yoghurt for a version that is not quite as rich but still tasty.
The Results:
  • Would serve around 4 as a starter, with toast or crackers.


  1. Fiona at Life on Nanchang LU

    Oh how I love smoked mackerel….I wish you wouldn’t write about it though because there’s no bus here in Shanghai tahat’s gonna take me anywhere near a mackerel, smoked or otherwise. Lovely memories of Arbroath smokies in Scotland, and home-made smoked mackeral in the Outer Hebrides.

  2. Daily Spud

    Hey Fiona – your comment got trapped in my spam filter for a while. Can’t for the life of me imagine why, spam is nothing like mackerel :D

    And sorry to rub it in, given that there’s no smoked mackerel for miles in your neck of the woods – will try not to be so insensitive next time!

  3. Aoife

    Holy smoked mackerel (sorry, couldn’t resist!), and with ginger you say? Very interesting Ms. Spud, very interesting indeed.

  4. Daily Spud

    Yes, Aoife, with ginger. Not only interesting but tasty. Take my word for it!

  5. Reeni

    The only smoked fish I ever had was salmon – would love to try this – especially prepared this way. Very intriguing with the ginger! Well worth the trip down memory lane!

  6. Daily Spud

    Smoked mackerel is a really tasty fish experience Reeni – darker and meatier than smoked salmon, though I love that too! It’s very commonly served with cracked black pepper (which works really well) and, for me, adding ginger wasn’t too much of a stretch from that. Its flavour is strong enough to stand up to the addition of raw ginger and lots of spring onions without being overpowered by them – at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it :)

  7. Quay Po Cooks

    I never tasted smoked mackerel with ginger. Sounds interesting. Since it is not easily available here, I will try smoked salmon with ginger instead.

  8. Daily Spud

    Hi Quay Po Cooks and thanks so much for dropping by. Smoked salmon would be quite different in taste and texture to smoked mackerel but I think would work with ginger too – let me know how you get on!

  9. Chef E

    Have you ever had fish candy? They brine the salmon and smoke it till it is literally like candy, and makes great sandwiches! I did it a year or so ago. Now I want some. I will have to try smoked mackerel, as I have only bought fresh, and did not care for the strong flavor, but did the same with blue fish (oily fish, heavy flavor too) and liked it!

    Wondering where you been lately…busy I see :) Oh, and your comment so sounds like the beginning of a poem to me!

  10. Joie de vivre

    Very poetic. It is sad to see some things end, is it not?

  11. Daily Spud

    Chef E: I’ve never had fish candy but, based on that description, I want to try! If you can find it, do try smoked mackerel. It is strongly flavoured but I enjoy it :)

    Joie de Vivre: it is – even things that you would think it’s not necessarily worth getting sad over

  12. Sophie

    Smoked mackerel!!! Lovely flavoured smoked mackerel paté!!


  13. Daily Spud

    Thought you might like it Sophie! :)

  14. Jenni

    Not being a fish girl, I still want to eat that. That must mean something, right? Oh, and how cool that you got to ride the last #10. Coincidence> I think not. What a lovely time to reminisce:)

  15. Daily Spud

    Of course that means you are a woman of impeccable good taste, Jenni, but we knew that already :)

  16. Ben

    Wow. I adore mackerel, and have never heard of it smoked. It has such a robust flavor on its own, and I can only imagine that smoking would add a layer of complexity. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it, and your pate looks divine.

  17. Daily Spud

    Ben, I’m sure that you would love smoked mackerel. It certainly does retain the robustness of the unsmoked version and will tend to dominate whatever dish you put it into, though the ginger is assertive enough to provide a good contrast here.

  18. Theresa

    Mmmm, delicious.. I’ve made lots of smoked makerel pate in the past but the addition of ginger in this one makes it my new favourite. Serving it to dinner guests tonight so hoping they love it as much as I do. Thanks so much from a fellow Dubliner!

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