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Recipe for smoked bluefish paté


When my husband Ted and I moved to Boston in the 1970s, Legal Sea Foods was a tiny restaurant attached to a fish market in Cambridge, with paper placemats and famously quirky service, and the most addictive smoked bluefish paté. It's so good that they've never taken it off the menu. Fast forward to last week, when Bob and Charlotte appeared at my door with a perfect piece of  bluefish -- fish they'd caught off their boat and hot-smoked with black peppercorns and mustard seed in their backyard smoking contraption. Life does not get better than this. I whipped their bluefish into my own version of Legal Sea Foods' paté. If you don't have friends who smoke their own fish (you can also make this with smoked trout), buy it at a fish market, or I'll send you Bob and Charlotte's phone number. No point in sending you mine; there isn't a spoonful of paté left.

Smoked bluefish paté, a favorite New England appetizer.

Smoked bluefish paté

From the pantry, you'll need: butter, onion, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Adapted from Legal Sea Foods restaurant. Makes 1-1/2 cups.


1/4 cup sliced red onion, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked bluefish fillets
1/4 lb whipped cream cheese
3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp Cognac
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


In a small frying pan, combine the onion and olive oil. Set the heat on low, and cook, stirring or shaking the pan every now and then, until the onions are lightly browned, 5 minutes or more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Shred the bluefish with your fingers, feeling as you go for any small bones. Place the fish in a food processor along with the cream cheese, butter and Cognac. Process until smooth. Add the Worcestershire, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the cooked onions. Process again, until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with crackers, or bread, or cucumber rounds, garnished with remaining sautéed onions. You can make this paté in advance; store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or in the freezer for up to three months, which makes it a handy appetizer recipe to make this summer and serve for Thanksgiving holidays.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Roasted red pepper and garlic hummus crostini
Greek hummus with white beans and feta
Lemon onion hummus
Costa Rican black bean dip
Slow-roasted tomato bruschetta

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Edamame Meyer lemon dip, from Chez Us
Artichoke-lemon dip, from Poor Girl Gourmet
Graffiti eggplant with white bean, basil and lemon spread, from Roost: A Simple Life
Sardine paté, from David Lebovitz
Raw vegetable nut paté, from Eating Out Loud

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Awesome recipe! Reminds me of a fish mousse (one that I'd want to eat).

Mmm. I love smoked bluefish pate too! I turn my weber into a smoker which is pretty easy to do, but maybe not quite as easy as being friends with Bob and Charlotte. Please send me their number ;)

I have to admit I don't like fish in any form - not even tuna from a can - but I would make this for my friends and family in heartbeat - they would love it! As for Legals...what can we say...it is great Boston institution at this point!

Lydia, I know what you mean by fresh smoked bluefish - I had my first in Maine many years ago and still remember it!

Love what you have created! It looks yummy!

Riyaad, such a nice thing to say.

Julia, I'm so glad you love this as much as I do. I've never tried to smoke my own anything. Then again, I have a friend with a smoker....

Carol, this is a great party appetizer, and it's something you can make ahead and freeze. Sorry you don't like fish; I couldn't live without it.

Jeanette, I know smoked fish is an acquired taste, and bluefish is an acquired taste, but isn't it just divine?

Nicolas, it *is* yummy.

Smoked bluefish fillets looks really great with whipped cream cheese. Wow I can't tell how delicious it was, wanna try this.

We're crazy about smoked fish spreads here! Unfortunately, bluefish is something we rarely find. But, the fish market in our neighborhood makes a mean smoked mullet, which should work great in this recipe. Can't wait to try it!

Raquel, it's really good -- I hope you get to try it.

Susan, I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, smoked whitefish spread from the deli was a perennial feature on the Sunday bagels-and-lox table. I think this recipe would work with any smoked fish, because bluefish has a fairly strong flavor on its own. And the paté makes me just as thirsty as that whitefish spread used to!

Lydia- LOL! I don't mind not liking fish - but I think the real reason is because it was never served in my house (not even canned tuna - mom is a hard core vegetarian)so by the time I was exposed to it - it was too late!! hehehe! I often try a bite of whatever is being eaten around me but I just can't seem to acquire the taste but bring on the lobster, shrimp and scallops!! (never clams or crabs please)
have a GREAT weekend!

many thanks for this recipe.....it never fails to amaze me how, on the east coast anyway, bluefish has such a horrible rep. Walk up to nearly any fisherman/woman along the coast and ask them to save a bluefish for you......Oh the horror!!!! lol Personally bluefish is the best fish in the sea....so rich and flavourful. Again, thanks a ton for the recipe....now to go find the fish hahaha

Carol, you can go far with a taste for shellfish! And good for you for trying new things

Milton, I'm a huge fan of bluefish. I served this at a party last night, and I was surprised at how quickly it disappeared. Very addictive. Hope you find some smoked bluefish to give this a go.

Oh, how lucky you are Lydia! I love bluefish. Hope to enjoy some when I'm out there in a week.

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