Felicity Cloake’s Christmas recipe for smoked salmon paté

We’ve kicked off our family festivities with smoked salmon for as long as I can remember – for years, it was the only fish I’d eat that didn’t come in breadcrumbs. These days, I’m as likely to use trout instead, but whatever your preference this luxurious paté is an excellent way to make a pricey ingredient go a little further. It’s also a godsend for those who like to get ahead, because it will sit happily in the fridge for a couple of days, leaving you plenty of time for the rest of the mammoth to-do list … or simply to sit back and enjoy the moment. Because this year, of all years, we need to go a bit easy on ourselves.

Smoked salmon paté
Think of this paté, with its robust, rillette-like texture, as a base into which you could fold anything you might ordinarily pair with smoked fish, from grated lemon zest to horseradish, chopped, hard-boiled eggs to pickled capers. Finish with a sprinkling of salmon roe if you’re feeling particularly decadent, and serve with crisp rye toasts and a peppery watercress salad.

Prep 5 min
Cook 10 min
Serves 6

300g hot smoked salmon
100g cream cheese, drained of any liquid
100g creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
150g cold smoked salmon
1 small bunch dill or chives, finely chopped (optional)

Flake the hot smoked salmon into a bowl, discarding the skin. Add the cream cheese and creme fraiche, and beat with a fork to combine with the fish.

Stir in the lemon juice and plenty of pepper, then taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Chop the cold smoked salmon into small pieces, then fold into the paté along with any herbs, if using. At this point, you could also add a couple of tablespoons of roughly chopped capers or pickled gherkins, if you like.

If you want to make a real impact, spoon the paté into six ramekins. In a small pan, melt 100g butter over a low heat and simmer until the white solids separate from the liquid fat. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, discard the solids, then pour the fat on top of the paté and chill until set – I like to add a pinch of fresh herbs or some pink peppercorns on top, just before it solidifies, but that’s purely for aesthetic purposes.