Potted Fish Paste

Recipes | Brunch | Potting | Sandwiches Serves 8 as an entrée Potted Fish Paste

Oily fish are typically used for English fish pastes as they have a distinctive flavour. It seems a contradiction, but the flesh of some oily fish, such as jack mackerel, tends to be quite dry when cooked; which means it benefits from being mixed into a paste with butter. Fish pastes were traditionally used as a filling for delicate little sandwiches served at afternoon tea.


375g salted butter
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
500g Jack Mackerel fillets, skin off, bones removed
Salt flakes, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 lemon, zest finely grated, juiced
Crusty bread, for serving


Melt 250g of the butter over a low heat, set aside for a minute or 2 until sediment sinks to the bottom, then carefully skim off the clarified butter, discarding sediment. Set aside.

Place remaining butter in a frying pan with fennel seeds and melt over a low heat. When it starts to froth, increase heat to medium-high, add fish and fry for a minute or 2 on each side, until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Place fish and its cooking butter into a bowl with salt, cayenne, lemon juice and zest and mix well with a fork to form a coarse paste.

Pack tightly into 6 small ramekins. Smooth the top and pour the clarified butter over the top to seal. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. 

Remove from the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving. Spread on crusty bread and serve.

Alternative species:

Australian Sardines, Mullet, Yellowtail Scad.

Print this page