Judith Hausman
August 7, 2013


Photo by Judith Hausman

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This seafood spread is a snap.

My food souvenir from a week on a New England island was a couple of filets of smoked, local mackerel, purchased as we waited for the ferry to return us to reality. I usually bring home a precious piece of the iconic bluefish, with its dusky, ocean flavors, but the fish store by the docks was all sold out. 

I wasn’t disappointed, though; the mackerel worked like a charm. This less refined fish is very salty, especially when smoked, so I had to be careful with the salt, but I also realized it would stand up to other strong seasonings. Widely available smoked trout is a great fallback for this recipe, but I’d use milder herbs and seasonings with trout. Try a combination of good-quality tuna and anchovies, too, creating a kind of tonnato sauce, which is traditionally served over slices of cold veal roast. You don’t need to be a stickler for the proportions here. If the filets are larger, just use more cream cheese and sour cream. 

I served the mackerel spread for hors d’oeuvres with cold retsina on a sweltering night. It’s also delicious spooned over sliced tomatoes or cooked new potatoes with plenty of fresh herbs. 

Yield: about 1 cup


  • 3 to 4 ounces filet of smoked mackerel, bluefish or trout 
  • 1 (4-ounce) package cream cheese (“light” or Neuchatel OK) 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (“light” OK here, too)
  • juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley and/or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill, chopped 
  • 1 garlic scape or 1 small shallot, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway or dill seeds (optional)


Into the bowl of a food processor, flake off the smoked fish from the skin. Add all the ingredients and pulse until smooth. Season to taste. 

Cover and chill for several hours. 

Serve with pita bread, miniature rye and pumpernickel slices, or assorted fresh vegetables or crackers.


You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:

Lafayette Local

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