This recipe for Mackerel Pate with Quick Pickled Red Onion is one of those minimal effort with maximum flavour and reward dishes. And I think it offers a tasty alternative to the usual salmon pate which appears on all menus over the festive season.

Mackerel Pate with Quick Pickled Red Onion

Bonus that it is easily made from tinned mackerel and I guarantee no one will guess that it is made with tinned fish. You can be quite flexible and change the sour cream with a smooth cream cheese or mascarpone but make sure you add enough lemon juice to counteract the richness of the fish and the cream. The pickled red onion adds acidity and lifts the flavours of the pate. It is a cinch to make and adds colour and texture to the pate.

Mackerel Pate with Quick Pickled Red Onion

Mackerel appears on the SASSI green list so this a great “responsible” fish dish to make over the festive season ahead.

“Started in 2004, the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) was established to drive change in the local seafood industry by working with suppliers and sellers of seafood, as well as informing and inspiring consumers to make sustainable seafood choices.

WWF-SASSI promotes voluntary compliance with the law – specifically the South African Marine Living Resources Act – through education and awareness. It also aims to shift consumer demand from over-exploited species to more sustainable ones.

To support consumers in understanding their sustainable seafood options, SASSI provides a few easy-to-use tools that categorise seafood species according to a ‘traffic light’ system of red, orange and green. These tools include a credit card-sized pocket guide, a free app and a mobile SMS service, aptly named FishMS. By sending our service an SMS including the name of the fish you’re about to eat, we’ll send you an immediate response telling you whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid a particular seafood.”

Mackerel Pate with Quick Pickled Red Onion

Mackerel Pate with Quick Pickled Red Onion


Click here for more festive recipe ideas

Mackerel Pate with Quick Pickled Red Onion


  • 2 x 190g cans smoked mackerel fillets in oil, drained
  • 1 tsp English mustard (hot or mild as per taste)
  • 50ml sour cream
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • good squeeze of lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Quick pickled red onion:
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • a good pinch caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill (or parsley)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to season


  1. Prepare the pickle by placing the onion, sugar, vinegar and dill in a bowl
  2. Mix and let stand for 10 minutes
  3. Taste, add more sugar, salt or pepper as needed, and set aside until ready to serve
  4. Make the pâté by placing all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor
  5. Blitz to a paste
  6. Taste, (add salt, if necessary as the fish is usually quite salty), add more pepper or lemon juice to taste
  7. Serve the pâté spread thickly on toast or crackers, topped with pickled onion
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes

This recipe first appeared in the Sunday Times Food Weekly

More photos, food and travel stories on: Instagram Pinterest Twitter Facebook YouTube


Apple, Ginger and Lemon Spritzer



Leave a Reply