#2 Bloater Savoury

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To accompany the Suffolk Rusks I had planned as part of a challenge I have set myself to cook all the recipes from some traditional Suffolk recipe books I own, I made a cheats version of this traditional fish pate in advance so it was sitting in the fridge ready.

A ‘bloater’ is a herring smoked whole – they are differentiated from ‘kippers’ by the fact that the fish is smoked whole and with its innards intact. They take the name from the fact that they are swelled, or ‘bloated’ in preparation for smoking.

According to Favourite Suffolk Recipes, where I have taken the recipe from, “this hot spicy paste was very popular in Edwardian times, served with toast or Suffolk Rusks as an appetiser or a savoury. If bloaters are not available, it can be made with smoked mackerel”.


I was quite relieved to read this last bit because I was slightly panicking about how and where I was going to bloat a herring, or where I was even going to get a whole fresh herring from! I do know of Young's Fish, a family owned seafood business is a regular fixture at Ipswich Market so I would have potentially started by asking them, but in all honesty I did not feel like bloating my own herring on this occasion. 

Difficulty: Easy, because I cheated

Time taken: 10 mins

Serves: Made three smallish tubs


The traditional recipe is as follows:

  • 2 bloaters

  • 2oz (57g) butter, softened

  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • Cayenne pepper to taste

  • 2 egg yolks

  • A squeeze of lemon juice



1. Grill the bloaters on both sides, then remove the skin and bones and flake the fish


I felt this was currently beyond me as I was already also making the rusks and pushed for time, so decided to buy some already cooked smoked mackerel in my weekly shop. I bought two packs which equaled two fish and removed the skin and bones, then broke it down with a fork.


2. Add the butter to the fish and blend well 


I melted the butter in the microwave and mashed it into the fish with a fork, which I had also warmed in the microwave.  I am presuming it wanted blending but I opted for a course pate on this occasion and decided not to blend it. 

3. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper. Bind with the egg yolks and lemon juice

 I added these ingredients and just mixed it all together thoroughly.

4. Sieve to produce a smooth paste and turn into a dish


As I did not blend it, I did not sieve it either as I wanted a course pate.

5. Serve with fingers of hot toast or Suffolk Rusks


I was making the rusks the following day, so I put it into fridge pots ready for when I needed it.

Obviously if I had made this the traditional way with fresh local herring, then gone through the process of bloating it, cooking it, blending it and sieving it, then the pate would have tasted very different and had a very different texture, because the processes and ingredients you use will make all the difference to how a dish turns out. But as a quick cheats version I enjoyed the flavour and we ate it with the rusks, along with our Suffolk cheeses, Suffolk butter and jam and boozy Edmund cocktails. Two recipes down, hundreds more to go…