The thought of eating fish paste may make people shudder, people would think differently if this recipe were named smoked fish pâté, I feel. However we are not French so fish paste it remains. Perhaps people think back to those nasty cheap homogenised pots of meat and fish paste from their childhood. If you make your own it is a very different creature and I am sure this one will be same.
The other thing that may put one off from this recipe is the name of the fish in question – the bloater. It’s not the most delicious sounding fish is it? There have been several bloater recipes and this is the final one, but if you are not in the know a bloater is in fact a cured herring. The cure is very similar to that of the kipper and the only real difference is that bloaters are cured completely whole giving them a more gamy flavour than a kipper. Because they are intact they bloat as they smoke, hence the name.
This is a nice straight-forward easy affair. Start by gutting your bloaters, removing any membranes from the cavity. I had just one, but was lucky to find two nice fat roes inside within so I reserved those and tossed the rest of the innards in the bin.
Pour boiling water over your fish and roes; the skin will curl and the body of the fish will noticeably tense and plump up. Leave for around 10 minutes to poach in the water. Remove the skin and flake the flesh, being careful to pick out any bones, don’t worry too much about the very thin hair bones, they will not be noticed.
Don’t forget to fish out the roes, should you have any. Weigh the fish and place in a food processor along with its equal weight in softened butter. Whizz up until you have a spreadable consistency you like. Season with ground black pepper, lemon juice and a little salt. Serve with hot toast.
You get quite a lot of paste – I got two 250 ml pots from just the one bloater. Not bad at all I reckon.
#358 Bloater Paste. This was delicious and light – the butter helped whip the bloater into a wonderful consistency and the lemon juice really accentuated the fish’s own natural piquancy. Very good. 7.5/10.