Simple smoked mackerel canapés

Crunchy, with a rich smoked flavour and a sharp tang, this is my simple canapé version of a wonderful mackerel starter I had in a restaurant some time ago. As the pâté and the chutney can be made in advance, these canapés take minutes to assemble and will remain crunchy for a couple of hours.

I prefer to top these with smoked mussels, but capers work brilliantly. Sourdough is my bread of choice here but any good quality bread will do well.

The sharpness of the gooseberry chutney cuts through the richness and oilyness of the mackerel beautifully. But an apple chutney, or even thin slices of cooking apple poached until soft in a little water, will work well. My recipe for gooseberry chutney is given at the bottom of the post: it makes far more than you need for these canapés.

The pâté can be made up in moments and it has a great depth of flavour. It is excellent served on buttered toast or as part of a light platter.

On smoked mussels:

Smoked mussels have a tremendous depth of flavour, but you need to avoid the tinned ones as they have little flavour and carry barely any smokey taste. You can buy stunning smoked mussels online: I tend to use Loch Fyne and Inverawe Smokehouses.

The mussels come in a oil that becomes wonderfully smokey: a few tablespoon of the oil mixed into a fish pâté is a nice touch but it is great added to salad dressings, drizzled on a piece of fish or over a fishy soup etc. And a spoonful mixed into scrambled eggs as they cook elevates the dish to new heights.

Smoked mackerel canapés

Smoked mackerel pâté:

  • 300g smoked mackerel (skinned and boned)
  • a tablespoon or two at most of crème fraîche, mayonnaise or cream cheese
  • a heaped teaspoon of capers, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped gherkins or pickled cucumbers or similar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons horseradish sauce (or a few shavings of freshly grated horseradish)
  • a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh chives
  • juice of half a lemon
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • chopped capers for garnishing


  • several slices of sourdough bread, sliced thinly
  • smoked mackerel pâté
  • smoked mussels, halved lengthways, or capers
  • freshly milled pepper
  • fresh chives, snipped

(1) Make the pâté: mix all ingredients together with a fork until combined well, trying to keep some chunks of mackerel. Top with a few chopped capers and a grinding of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover and chill until ready to use.

(2) Cut each slice of bread into fairly uniform sizes and place on a baking tray (any misshapen ones are definitely for tasters!). You can take the crusts off if preferred

(3) Bake the bread at 120°C(fan) for about 30 minutes until very lightly browned and crispy. Leave to cool.

(4) Add a small amount of gooseberry chutney to each piece of bread, then top this with about a teaspoon of smoked mackerel pâté.

(5) Put one half of a smoked mussel on each canapé, cut side down. Alternatively, top each canapé with a few capers.

(6) Refrigerate until needed, but eat within a few hours or the bread will go soft. Serve with a grinding of black pepper and some chopped chives.

Recipe: gooseberry chutney (makes 2-3 jars):

  • approx. 500g gooseberries (red or green), topped and tailed- you can use frozen or fresh gooseberries
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely or blitzed in a food processor
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt

(1) Add all ingredients to a large pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

(2) Once boiled, turn the heat down and keep at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes thicker, pulpy and the texture you prefer.

(3) Put into sterilised jars and seal. The chutney can be used immediately or stored for up to a year.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

I love to hear your comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: