Cooking is so often an issue of adaptation. Scandinavian cuisine has a multitude of smoked food, which I miss. In Rome we find some smoked cheese (like scamorza) and smoked guanciale and pancetta, but not smoked fish, besides imported smoked salmon. Last Christmas I bought a stovetop smoker for my husband) in the UK, which is very promising. We have smoked some mackerel and ribs, which were wonderful. More on that another day. Not all fish is good for smoking. Fortunately, each month some fellow expat Japanese friends import Japanese-style fish products from Holland, and I often order something, though I am not always sure what it is. Lots to learn, the flavor palate is interesting.
I really fancied a smoked fish pâté. We had fresh dill brought back from London, and a lone package of Shime Saba in the freezer from the last shipment: this is Japanese vinegar-pickled mackerel. Caught in Norway, pickled in Holland, shipped to Italy: terrible for food miles, I know, but tasty. Not smoked, but close enough to try. I wandered up the hill to the Roma farmers market to buy fresh ricotta for the pâté, and some rustic salumi (Italian cured meat products, often pork) for dinner. Lots of local producers, very nice and lots to explore. The salumi stand even had pork jerky, which had not seen here before. “Pizzico, pizzico!” said the lady, it was quite peppery. And then I made this pâté.
Pickled mackerel ricotta pâté
Inspired by How to make perfect smoked mackerel pâté on The Guardian.
120g vinegar-pickled mackerel, skin and all (no bones)
1/2 tsp grated horseradish
1/2 tsp smoked salt
small pinch of fresh dill
If you don’t have smoked salt, use plain salt. Check for bones, then whizz it all in the food processor (skin and all) until it’s relatively smooth. A little texture is rather nice. Season to taste. serve with crackers or sourdough bread. The flavor was even better the next day, as leftovers for breakfast, with poached egg.
Note: I buy smoked salt at the Mercato Centrale in Florence when I’m there, it’s called Sale Vichingo Affumicato. Usually followed by a slab of bistecca Fiorentina at Trattoria Mario, then a siesta. Fresh dill is hard to find here, I sometimes grow my own in the spring and freeze it. Otherwise I bring it from Norway or the UK.
I just saw this recipe for Pickled mackerel with buttermilk snow, cucumber and dill – it looks intriguing, with a Scandinavian-style pickled mackerel. Though finding buttermilk here is a challenge (I approximate with milk and lemon juice, or vinegar)…….. I’ll keep that on the ever-expanding list of recipes to try, once the stars align with ingredients being available.