In his outstanding seafood cookbook “Cooking The Catch” Dave “Pops” Masch presents two simple recipes for smoked bluefish dip. One recipe is made with cream cheese and Pops calls it pâté, while the second smoked bluefish recipe is a dip with a sour cream base.
Recipe: Easy Smoked Bluefish Pâté
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup smoked bluefish
- 1 grated medium onion
- Salt and pepper
Recipe: Easy Smoked Bluefish Dip
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 TBS horseradish
- 1 minced clove of garlic
- 1 TBS chili sauce
- 1 TBS minced parsley
- 1/2 cup mashed smoked bluefish
- Salt and pepper
I’ve tried both recipes, and they are excellent. I’ve also tried experimenting a bit with the flavors. Adding Worcestershire sauce to the pâté and substituting shallots for onions was good, as was scallions and sriracha sauce in the dip instead of parsley/garlic/horseradish. Sour cream, chives and chopped red bell pepper tasted good and looked festive. Pops has suggested capers and smoked paprika as a good flavor combination, and he has even been experimenting with mascarpone cheese as a base, with a TBS of Dijon mustard for flavor. As long as you combine flavors that taste good on their own, they will be made better with the addition of smoked bluefish.
Every time I’ve made a batch of smoked bluefish dip, it has come out a little bit different, but I’ve settled on a few preferences. I like a lot of horseradish, a good squeeze of lemon juice, and some heat from hot sauce. I also like to go with a cream cheese base but add some sour cream to thin the texture a bit and give it some tang. Here’s what I put in this weekend’s batch, best I can recall:
- 4 smoked bluefish fillets, crumbled
- 2 80z cream cheese blocks
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- half a red onion, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1-2 TBS of fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 cup of Franks Hot Sauce
As far as how to smoke the bluefish, I’ll quote Pops, who wrote in his November 2011 column:
I hate being asked questions like, “What is the best way to smoke fish?” or “What is the best recipe for striped bass?” It is like being asked, “What is the best way to make love?” – a question that cannot be answered, though even the worst way is at least interesting.
Pops certainly had a way with words. I highly recommend both of his catch-and-cook cookbooks, Cooking The Catch I and Cooking the Catch II, which read more like collections of essays than mere recipes.
You can get pretty technical about smoking fish, with brines and rubs, even bastes and glazes, and smokers that ensure precise air flow and temperature. When it comes to smoking bluefish for dip, however, I prefer quick and easy, as the bluefish will be crumbled and mashed into the dip anyway. The goal is to cook the fish and add some smoky flavor. So instead of dragging out the dedicated smoker, I heat up the gas grill, then turn one side completely off and place the fillets on that side. Rub the grates with Canola oil so the fish won’t stick and season the fillets with a small amount of salt, pepper and cayenne. I have an infrared grill, so adding smoke is as easy as dropping a few chips of apple wood into the grate on the hot side. You can use a tinfoil pouch or a smoking box if you have a regular gas grill. It took about 30-45 minutes until the fish was cooked through. There’s no need to flip the fillets.