It’s The Times’ restaurant critic Giles Coren’s favourite pub and, while its doors might be closed for now, why not recreate some of The Bull & Last’s much-loved dishes at home – starting with this delicious Chamomile Tea Smoked Mackerel Pâté
IMAGE: WHITEFOX PUBLISHING
A simple fishboard classic and a favourite with The Bull & Last’s customers, this Chamomile Tea Smoked Mackerel Pâté recipe is easy to rustle up at home and tastes utterly delicious. Tea-smoking is a light and delicate way to impart smokiness to fish and it’s relatively simple to achieve in your home kitchen.
Chamomile Tea Smoked Mackerel Paté
- 150 g long-grain rice
- 150 g demerara sugar
- a handful of dry chamomile flowers (or 6 chamomile tea bags)
- light rapeseed oil, for greasing
- 6 large fresh mackerel fillets
- 2-3 tbsp crème fraîche
- a splash of mirin
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
- a good pinch each of chopped flat-leaf parsley, chervil and tarragon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Quick Pickled Cucumbers, sliced
- slices of toast
- First, smoke the fish. Combine the rice and sugar in a bowl, then mix in the chamomile (if using tea bags, snip the bags and pour the contents into the bowl).
- Prepare a large, deep roasting tin – you want a tin that’s large enough to accommodate a cooling rack. Line the base and sides of the tin with two layers of foil. Pour over the rice mixture and spread it out evenly. Lightly oil a cooling rack that fits into the tin with a little rapeseed oil on a piece of kitchen paper (but don’t put it in the tin yet). Line up the mackerel skin side down on the oiled rack.
- Put the tray with the rice and sugar mix over a low heat (or on the grill of a barbecue or over an open fire). As the sugar melts and starts to caramelise, the rice and tea will toast, creating smoke. Move the tin around to ensure all the sugar has melted, and soon as the mixture starts to smoke, place the rack of fish on top, making sure the rice is level and doesn’t touch the fish. Increase the heat a little and cover the tin tightly with foil (or place another tin over the top) to create a chamber and make sure no smoke escapes. After a minute, have a quick look to see if smoke is building up inside the chamber. Once there is a decent amount of smoke, turn the heat right down, set a timer for 6–8 minutes and move the roasting tin over the flame occasionally to make sure the fish smokes and cooks evenly. Once it has started to take on a light brown colour, turn the heat off.
- Allow the fish to stay in the smoky, hot chamber for 10 minutes while it finishes cooking and cools down, then take a look at the fish – the flesh should flake easily and be opaque in the centre.
- Now, make the paté. Flake the fish into a bowl, discard the skin and any brown parts. Add 2 tablespoons of the crème fraîche, the mirin, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and mix together.
- Taste and add more crème fraîche, mirin and lemon juice if needed. Cover and chill in the fridge until required. It will keep, covered, for up to 2 days.
- Serve the paté with sliced pickled cucumbers and toast. with steamed greens and pickles.
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