Champagne taste on a beer budget… That’s pretty much my biggest culinary challenge. Take smoked salmon. I love it. Do I get to dig into the prime stuff often? Not often, no. Actually, more like not at all. It’s just too expensive. Instead I feed my smoked salmon inner beast with smoked salmon off-cuts. It’s not pretty to look at to be sure. But it’s half the price and one doesn’t argue with that.

I add a dash of cream, a pinch of dill and a splash of vodka and tuck into a mighty fine quick pasta sauce. I load my Sunday-morning bagel with it, and my busy weeknight omelette. And then of course there’s smoked salmon paté, my ultimate spread for melba toast, crackers and wholegrain bread.

Of course one can buy smoked salmon paté, but making it oneself is way cheaper and it takes less than 10 minutes! I also generally find store-bought paté a bit bland, so I give mine real flavour punch with onion, lemon zest, chives and lemon juice. To turn it into a truly luxe smoked salmon paté, I garnish it with capers or caper berries, paper-thin slices of lightly pickled radish and a dusting of sumac.

All you need is…

1 cup (150g) smoked salmon off-cuts, finely chopped
two-thirds cup of cream cheese
1 heaped tablespoon of very finely chopped red onion
2 tbs plain yoghurt
2 tbs tangy mayonnaise
finely grated zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 heaped tablespoon of very finely snipped chives (tip: use scissors)
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
to garnish:
caper berries or tiny non-pareilles capers (the non-pareilles capers from Woolworths are very good)
pickled radish (see tips, tricks and trivia below for how to make your own)
micro rocket leaves

Place the salmon in your food processor and pulse until it is fine. Add the cream cheese and onion and pulse until it’s mixed through. (I like texture to my smoked salmon paté, so I don’t make it too fine. If you like it finer, blend it longer, and if you want it really gourmet smooth, simply push it through a sieve at the end.)

Add the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lemon zest and lemon juice and blitz to mix. Add the chives and black pepper and pulse once or twice to blend it in. Taste to see if it needs salt. If you want it tangier, stir in a bit of extra lemon juice. If you want a cheekier bite, add some more black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover with cling film and place in the fridge until you use it. This smoked salmon paté definitely improves with standing, so try to give the flavours and hour or two to mingle before you serve.




10 min


1 hr


tips, tricks and trivia

How to make pickled radish

I very lightly pickle the radish I serve with this smoked salmon paté. It’s so easy. Simply slice the radish as thinly as possible and pop them in white wine vinegar for just a minute or two. As it pickles so briefly, there’s no point in adding aromatics like dill or mustard seeds, water, sugar and salt which is what I would do for veggies I pickle for longer.


More options for this recipe

1) Replace the chives with finely chopped fresh dill
2) Instead of using 2 tbs yoghurt and 2tbs mayonnaise to thin the paté, use either 4 tbs of yoghurt or 4tbs of mayonnaise. I find the all-mayo option a bit mayo dominant, but tastes differ, so experiment and do what pleases you.
3) Replace the smoked salmon with smoked snoek – it’s cheaper and a real lunchbox winner.

enjoy with

If you’re in the mood for something a bit special with this paté, open a bottle of Shannon Vineyards Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2016. Situated in the cool-climate Elgin Valley and owned by James and Stuart Downes, Shannon Vineyards produce three highly-acclaimed site-specific wines, all with names taken from geographical features along the mountain range above the vineyards. One of the three is the Shannon Vineyards Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc.

Ever since the release of the maiden 2008 vintage, the Shannon Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc has garnered widespread praise as a wine to be reckoned with, and James is especially happy with the 2016 Sanctuary Peak.

This is an elegant wine showcasing Sauvignon’s zesty acidity and vibrancy. It’s nicely balanced by a 10% component of barrel-fermented Semillon which lends richer notes, a fuller mouth feel and complexity to the wine, making the wine approachable at an earlier age whilst also ensuring a great backbone for ageing potential. Expect primary aromas of citrus, pear and white peach as well as a touch of fynbos and flinty mineral. On the palate it is multi-layered yet juicy.

It is a premium SB, retailing at time of publication at between R115-R125 a bottle. But then I think salmon deserves something special, and you saved all that money by making this paté yourself after all!



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