Rillettes de la mer – Rillettes de maquereau fumé sur blinis de pommes de terre au cumin

It’s been a while I ate mackerel…it’s one of those things you tend to forget it exists until you see it at the store. In France mackerel is a quite consumed fish, we eat it fresh and grilled, it’s considered a “fat” fish, well fattier than cod or sole and when smoked you can make delicious “rillettes“. Rillettes are a traditional specialty from France, they are somehow like a pâté or spread, but not as fine grind and with a more “thready” type of texture. They’re commonly made with pork meat that has cooked for a very long time in its own fat.  Other types of rillettes can be made with duck, goose, rabbit and even with some types of fishes. The most famous are Rillettes du Mans (Mans being a city in the Northern part of France).

Fish rillettes contain butter and even though less fattening the meat rillettes, they tend to be on the heavy side. I avoided all extra fat by adding yogurt which added creaminess. Mackerel being a naturally fat fish, I didn’t want to add extra fat in it. I am not a fat-free freak, but when it’s not necessary to add it, I avoid it.

For a nice snack or appetizer, I thought a little potato blini would complement the rillettes quite well. Again blinis are usually made with buckwheat flour and go marvelously with smoked fish, then nothing prevent you from twisting things around in the kitchen and add a different texture and flavor to the traditional blinis. You can eat this as a light meal or serve them as appetizers, they’re always appreciated in my house.

Ingredients for about 12 blinis

For the rillettes

  • 7 oz (or 200 g) smoked mackerel
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 tbs plain yogurt
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp chives
  • red pepper corn, crushed
  • salt

For the binis

  • 7 oz (or 200 g) potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 4 tbs flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbs olive oil


For the rillettes

In a blender, mix mackerel, herbs, garlic and shallot. Taste to adjust salt since smoke mackerel tends to be on the salty side. Do not blend into a too fine paste, you need to have some texture and taste the mackerel. Add yogurt. In a mortar, crush red pepper corn and add to the mixture. Refrigerate for about one hour.

For the blinis

Cook potatoes in salted water, when soft, remove from stove and drain. Crush potatoes in to a fine puree. In a mixing container, add puree potatoes, flour, egg, milk, baking powder. Add cumin seeds and salt. Mix well to obtain a smooth mixture.

Heat olive oil in a pan, add one small amount of dough (about the amount of a tsp). Let one side cook, then flip it over.  Proceed until used all the batter. Spread with mackerel rillettes, top it with extra red pepper corns and herbs.