Home smoked mackerel polpette

This recipe formed the starter for the recent #SaltaireSupper event I co-hosted with Phil, founder of Saltaire’s favourite watering hole, the Cap and Collar, on 13th November this year.

Anyone who has followed the blog for a while or visited my pop up kitchen at Saltaire Festival Open Gardens will recognise this recipe in one form or another. Serving them up at the festival was a trial run for the event at the Cap and Collar and they are also an evolved take on an earlier blog post, Tuna Polpette.

Polpette are little deep fried balls of fish, meat or vegetables and are a common Cicchetti, the Venetian answer to tapas. My tuna recipe is fairly faithful to an authentic filling whereas this smoked fish version incorporates a product made to a high standard here in the UK.

For Saltaire Supper I cured the raw fish in a sugar/salt mixture before drying and hot smoking over beechwood to match Phil’s stellar beer pairing of Schlenkerla Rauchbier . I’m going to side-step the home smoking element of this recipe for the purposes of this blog because unless your smoking set-up is the same as mine (and there’s no reason why it should be) the details of the recipe will need to be changed to fit. Perhaps I will do a post on home smoking closer to Christmas. For the meantime, there are some helpful guides by River Cottage here.

At the supper club I made a homemade mayo, which I think is quite a personal thing. If you’ve never made your own mayo before then I recommend Felicity Cloake’s beginner’s guide here. I particularly think the tip about beating egg yolks with salt before doing anything else is a winning tactic.



(makes approx 20)

  • 8 smoked mackerel fillets
  • 1 250 grams ricotta
  • 1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2tsp dried oregano
  • 1 banana shallot, sweated in oil until transclucent
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed to a paste with salt and oil
  • juice and zest of two lemons
  • 1 cup ciabatta breadcrumbs (with extra as back up)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

for coating

  • plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups ciabarra breadcrumbs
  • sea salt
  • pepper

for frying

  • A deep fat fryer or heavy pot filled 1/2 way with veg or sunflower oil


  1. Combine all the mix ingredients together in a food processor and blitz until fully blended. Season to taste.
  2. Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll into a ball the size of a large marble between your hands . If the ball forms easily, great. If too wet, add some more breadcrumbs by the handful and mix well. Test again after adding each handful until you have a mix you can work with.
  3. Coat each ball in plain flour, dip into egg and then roll in breadcrumbs. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. Chill.
  4. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook.
  5. Heat the oil to 190°c and fry in manageable batches for 2-3 minutes at a time until a rich golden brown.

Serve with mayo or a dipping sauce of your choice.



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