Smoked Fish Spread


For those of you who have visited the Upper Peninsula  of Michigan (the UP) you know that smoked fish is a “thing.”  As soon as you cross the Mackinac Bridge you start to see little shops with signs hocking smoked fish.  Smoked whitefish, Menominee, salmon, and my personal favorite, smoked trout.  You can buy a whole fish or a slab.  It’s great to eat just as is.  Your fingers get a little greasy and they smell a little fishy but we don’t care.    The fish also makes an excellent spread.  Easy to make.  And you won’t smell as fishy!  My Dad used to make us smoked fish from his fresh catches and I will always remember his as being the very best.  My very favorite.  But Dad is nearly 89 and isn’t fishing much anymore.  So when I visit the UP I frequently get fish for our family and for friends from one of the little shops.


2 cups (approximately) of smoked fish flaked

4 oz cream cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

3-4 green onions sliced thin

2 T capers

2 T lime juice

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1 tsp if you want more kick)

Cracked pepper

Salt to taste


Use a hand mixer and beat the cream cheese and sour cream together until it is smooth.


Add the capers, lime juice, black and cayenne pepper, and paprika to the cream cheese, sour cream mixture and stir well to combine.


Slice the green onions and flake the fish.

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Add the fish and onion to the creamed mixture and blend well.

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Taste before you salt.  Some smoked fish is saltier than others.

This spread is excellent on crackers or served with raw vegetable like celery and carrots.  Great with bread and butter pickles.  You’ll also love it served on another UP tradition.  Finn Crisp.  Rye bread is the most traditional bread in Finland and in some areas of Finland it is baked only a few times a year, then dried and enjoyed year round.  It is baked with a hole in the center allowing the loaves to be hung on dowels to dry.  I’m sure that Finn Crisp is modeled  after those loaves.

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Enjoy  the smoked fish spread and enjoy the Finn Crisp if you can find it.

NOTE:  You could add some fresh dill to this recipe or substitute some minced dill pickles for the capers.


Smoked Trout Pate on Old Country Trenary Rye


I just returned from a week in the Upper Peninsula spending time with family and friends. It’s absolutely beautiful but it’s also the land that time and the internets forgot. So no blog posts while I was away.

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One of the highlights of this trip was the annual Outhouse Classic held in the wee town of Trenary. Where they race outhouses built on skis on a rough, snow covered track. The festivities also include beer tents, coolers full of turkey legs for your gnawing pleasure, and, of course, pasties.


Trenary also has a somewhat famous bakery whose specialties are Trenary Toast (a dry cinnamon sugared sweet bread perfect for dunking or making milk toast) and an old country rye bread that’s very hearty. The bakery also had an outhouse entry.


On to my pate.

The UP is known for all kinds of freshwater fish from inland lakes as well as the Great Lakes. My dad used to make the best smoked fish I’ve ever eaten. He no longer makes it but it’s available at several small specialty groceries on the sweet side of the Mackinac Bridge. For my return home I bought smoked trout and whitefish, old country rye bread, ternary toast and lots of pasties. For lunch today I decided to make a real simple pate served on the rye.


8 oz smoked trout, skin and bones removed

4 oz cream cheese

1 tsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp dill

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 T grated onion


Because I haven’t been home for awhile I had no fresh lemons but I always keep extra lemon juice in mini zip locks in my freezer. Fresh dill would also be preferable but improvise, improvise.

Combine the cream cheese and trout in a food processor. Make sure you’ve gotten all the bones out. Getting a bone in the pate might even be worse than egg shells in your deviled egg.


Grate the onion and add the onion, dill, horseradish and lemon juice to the fish/cream cheese.

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Pulse until its a nice, creamy consistency. It’s as easy as that!


I served up our smoked trout pate with rye bread, beets my daughter did in her pressure cooker, and home canned dilly beans.  I added some balsamic reduction to the beets to brighten up their flavor. It would also be good with sliced, hard boiled eggs, tomato slices, green onions, or crisp apple slices.



NOTE:  If you’d like to order bread or toast from the Trenary Bakery you can email Or call them at 1-800-TOAST-01. That was unsolicited but I do like promoting the UP.