This recipe for a classic South African smoked snoek pate comes from Isabella Niehaus’s beautiful new cookbook ‘Duinhuis’ (Dune House). The book – which is written in Afrikaans, is about Isabella’s life as a former fashion editor turned foodie and includes much loved recipes that she grew up with and a few contributions from close friends. Many of these dishes are prepared at her legendary long table pop-up lunches which she hosts twice a month at her Langebaan beach house.
Isabella invited me to join one of her lunches on a Sunday last month and I was extra excited because Tokara was the wine partner on that day. We got to taste the limited release Tokara MCC Blanc de Blanc which is only available at the cellar and a wine I had never encountered before. This exceptional bubbly paired beautifully with the freshest local Saldanha Bay oysters which kicked off a lazy and convivial afternoon of feasting while overlooking the turquoise ocean.
I wondered into Isabella’s open plan kitchen where she and her team of helpers were busily rustling up our gourmet feast and watched the first dish of a medley of seafood with curry sauce and warm naan bread being dished up. This was served with the Toakara Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon blanc 2018 (a favourite of mine) and it was delicious. For the rest of the afternoon, we enjoyed dishes from Isabella’s cookbook including another fish course of marinated wild kob cooked over the coals on her inside braai.
Duinhuis is written in Afrikaans and the details of where to buy it can be found here. You should be able to spot it in all good books shops now too.
To find out more about Isabella’s Long table lunches, check out her Facebook page.
Smoked Snoek Pate
Smoked snoek pate is a quintessential South African dish and one that I grew up with, so I’m really excited to be able to share this classic Cape recipe on Drizzleanddip. It’s a good one! After you have completed the slightly laborious task of taking out all the bones in the snoek (and there are a lot of small bones) it is really easy to make. For any readers that are not from these parts, this dish comes fairly close to resembling a salt cod paste (bacalhau) and what I encountered in cicheti in Venice.
*Cooks notes – This makes a decent size batch of pate so would be perfect to feed a crowd or serve at a party. If you wanted to make a smaller batch you could easily halve the recipe. I added a little extra creamed cheese and sour cream because I bought a dryish supermarket smoked snoek, but if you are able to buy freshly smoked local snoek that has more moisture you can lower the cream cheese quantity to 200gms and the sour cream to two tablespoons as per the original recipe. Isabella also suggests that you can use leftover braaied snoek if you are not able to get hold of smoked and this is definitely something I want to try too. I also added in the juice of half a lemon as I wanted the little zesty wake up call it gives the snoek pate, but it isn’t totally necessary.
Recipe – this will serve about 10 people at a party or 8 people as a starter nibble
- 300gms smoked snoek, bones removed and flaked (I had 300gms after bones removed so about 450 gms with bones)
- 250gms cream cheese
- 4 Tbs / 1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup finely grated mature Cheddar cheese
- 1 Tbs finely chopped parsley
- salt and freshly ground white pepper (a generous amount) – to taste
- 1-3 tsp good quality brandy (try a teaspoon at a time to test) – optional
- juice of 1/4 – 1/2 lemon – optional and to taste
Put all the ingredients except the salt, pepper, brandy & lemon in a large bowl and mix by hand until you get to a fluffy paste-like texture. Add the salt, pepper, brandy and lemon juice, tasting as you go to reach the flavour level that you like.
Serve with slices of bread, melba toast or crackers.
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