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Fishy recipe

Here’s a recipe for Mackerel Pate with lightly pickled onions that I make for a light lunch from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Very good with mackerel, but any canned fish fillets, such as pilchards or sardines, will do. You could use whole canned fish, too, but you'll need to remove the backbones and any bits of fin before you blitz them. The lightly pickled onion topping takes the pâté to another level. Serves four as a snack or starter or light lunch.

2 120-125g cans mackerel fillets in oil, or similar canned oily fish fillets

1 tsp English mustard

1 tbsp crème fraîche

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Lemon juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Wholemeal toast or oatcakes,

to serve


For the quick-pickled onion

1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 large pinch caster sugar

2 tsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp finely chopped dill or parsley


Prepare the onion first: put it in a bowl, sprinkle over a good pinch each of salt and sugar and a grinding of pepper and toss. Leave for 10 minutes to soften (if the onion releases a lot of liquid, drain it off). Sprinkle over the vinegar and dill or parsley, stir, and leave for 10 minutes more. Taste, add more sugar, salt or pepper as needed, and set aside until you are ready to serve – it will also keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours, but make sure you let it return to room temperature before serving.

Drain the oil from the cans of mackerel, and tip the fish into the bowl of a food processor. Add the mustard, crème fraîche, cayenne, some black pepper and a good squeeze of lemon. Blitz to a thick paste, stopping several times along the way to scrape down the sides of the processor. Taste and add salt, if necessary (the canned fish is already quite salty), and more pepper or lemon juice, if you like.

Serve the pâté spread thickly on toast or oatcakes, with a scattering of the piquant onion on top.