When I shared the oatcakes recipe earlier in the week, I mentioned that they are good with cheese or pate, so I thought it might be a good idea to share a really simple but delicious favorite, smoked haddock pate. Smoked haddock is pretty common in a few Scottish recipes so it fits with the season as we are thinking about Burns Night. It’s also something that brings back some fond memories for me.
Smoked haddock: a Scottish favorite
Smoked haddock is probably the most common smoked fish, after smoked salmon, in Scotland and was something we had a bit when I was a kid. I think it might be going out of favor a bit more now which would be a shame as it can be delicious.
One of my favorites is what is known as Arbroath Smokies, which are made in the fairly small town of Arbroath in the Northeast of Scotland. My mum used to be a Brownie leader (in part thanks to me) and one year I helped out when we went on camp near Arbroath. Before we went, we had a meeting with all the parents to talk through the plans for the week. This included visiting where they made Arbroath Smokies and then having them as part of dinner.
Most of the parents were adamant their kids wouldn’t eat them. However once there, pretty much all of them gobbled them down and were asking for more. We actually ran out, as we had bought on the lower end due to the parents’ concerns. I am sure a lot was down to seeing the smoking process – it really makes such a difference being able to see where your food comes from. Then being tempted to try them, it helped they were tasty too.
What distinguishes Arbroath smokies?
Arbroath Smokies are a bit lighter in flavor and don’t have the typical yellowy color that many smoked haddock do. They are smoked with two pieces tied together to hold them as they hang over the poles in the smoker. The methods are incredibly old but clearly work. Sadly they don’t appear much outside of Scotland, although I did discover you can buy them online. If you come across them do give them a try.
Smoked haddock pate: simple flavors
For this smoked haddock pate, while Arbroath Smokies would be nice, whatever smoked haddock you can find will be fine as there is a range of seasonings to help bring out the best in whatever you have. A little lemon, a little cream cheese and sour cream along with some cayenne and some pepper all help flavor and create a nice texture.
This smoked haddock pate is incredibly easy to make, so whizz some up to have on top of toast, oatcakes or whatever you prefer. I tend to just flake and mix by hand but you can also blend for a smoother pate. The quantities below are small, enough for a couple people as part of lunch, so scale up as you need. It’s a tasty change to your more typical pates.
A classic Scottish pate, full of flavor, that's great with oatcakes.
- 3 1/2 oz smoked haddock 95g
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1/2 - 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1 dash black pepper
Boil some water in a small pan. Add the smoked haddock and cook for around 8 minutes until cooked, changing color slightly and staring to flake.
Remove the fish from the water and flake the flesh, removing the skin and any bones.
Add the lemon juice, cream cheese, sour cream, cayenne pepper and black pepper and mix well. You can blend if you prefer a smoother pate.
Serve with toast or oatcakes.
Try these other Scottish favorites
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