Arbroath Smokie Mousse

I discovered Delia Smith when I used her recipe for Greek-style squid recipe that I found online. I had no idea who she was at that time, but when I looked on Amazon, I discovered she’d written many many cookbooks. One was Delia’s Happy Christmas, published in 2009.

I’m a sucker for Christmas cookbooks, although Nigella Christmas remains my favorite. Oddly enough, after buying Happy Christmas, the recipe I chose to make from it is maybe the least “Christmassy” of them all, but when I saw the name of the recipe I knew I had to make it!

My first experience with Arbroath smokies was when I made Cullen Skink, which utilizes smoked haddock. That’s when I discovered haddock caught and smoked in the Scottish town of Arbroath – thus the name Arbroath smokies! Here is my source for the smokies.

My second time using the smokies was making the omelette Arnold Bennett – an incredible brunch dish created at the Savoy Grill. So I knew Ms. Smith’s recipe using the smokies would be fabulous, with flavors far beyond smoked salmon or trout.

The opening line in Delia’s Happy Christmas is….. “Christmas is a thoroughly good thing.” And I agree wholeheartedly! Doesn’t that sound so British?!!

About this recipe, she writes: “This is unashamedly retro. In the 60’s it was very popular – only then made with smoked haddock (which is still equally good). It’s cool, light, and still evokes memories of that era.”

Arbroath Smokie Mousse

1 pair Arbroath smokies
2 eggs
7g or 0.2 ounces leaf gelatine (4 sheets measuring about 11 x 7.5cm each)
10g or 0.7 tablespoons butter
200ml or 6.7 ounces milk
10g or 0.4 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
125g or 14.5 ounces mayonnaise
A good pinch of cayenne
3 tablespoons fine capers
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
50ml or 1.7 ounces double cream, lightly whipped

For serving:
Cayenne pepper

Six ramekins with a base measurements of 7.5cm, lightly oiled. Begin with the eggs by placing them in cold water, bringing them up to a fast boil, then timing them for 7 minutes. Then cool them under a cold running tap and peel off the shells.

Now remove the skin and bones from the smokies and flake the flesh into small pieces and chop the eggs similarly.

Next soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl in cold water.

In a medium saucepan, place the butter, milk, and flour. Whisk these continuously together over a medium heat so the mixture will gradually thicken as it comes to a simmer. Then leave it on the barest simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatine, then whisk the gelatine into the hot sauce to dissolve it – which will happen quite quickly. Now transfer the sauce to a bowl, let it cool for about 10 minutes before stirring in the mayonnaise and cayenne. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next stir in the smokie pieces, eggs, capers and parsley, then finally fold in the whipped cream. Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins, covering with cling film and chill for several hours. (I used two ramekins and a larger dish for entertaining.”

When you want to serve them, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before, then slide a small palette knife around the edge of each one and turn out onto serving plates. Give each one a dusting of cayenne and a sprinkling of capers on top. Garnish with watercress.

I can see this as a first course for a summer meal just as much as something served during the holidays.

This mousse is fabulous, thanks to the Arbroath smokies of course. But I also love the egg component, and I’d never have guessed that there was gelatin in the mousse. It’s light and smooth.

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Travel Gourmet May 1, 2024 at 6:17 AM - Reply

    Delicious, Mimi. It’s such a classic here in UK but I have to confess I’ve never made it. I think every home here has a Delia book! And she’s still my go-to when I’m cooking something basic or classic as she’s so reliable.

    • Chef Mimi May 1, 2024 at 8:35 AM - Reply

      I wish I’d discovered her long ago, but I’m making up for time! I will continue to purchase Arbroath smokies because they are one of my favorite foods! I made an omelet with them and it was out of this world.

  2. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen May 1, 2024 at 8:10 AM - Reply

    This looks like a dream recipe Mimi! Love smoked haddock, and this looks like a fun recipe to make.
    I had the pleasure of meeting Delia on a fantastic literary cruise on the QE2 quite some time ago, complete with book signings and demonstrations. She cooked a lot of eggs!

    • Chef Mimi May 1, 2024 at 8:36 AM - Reply

      Oh how fun! She seems like a nice person, but I would hope most all chefs are!!! We all cook out of love.

  3. Cynthia Woodman May 1, 2024 at 8:43 AM - Reply

    This is timely! I’m headed to Scotland in two weeks.! I plan on eating a lot of fish, and I’m sure smoked haddock will be on the list!

    • Chef Mimi May 1, 2024 at 6:07 PM - Reply

      Ooh, I hope so! It’s so good! Have a fabulous time!

  4. Ben | Havocinthekitchen May 1, 2024 at 4:45 PM - Reply

    What a delicious and elegant dish! I love recipes with smoked fish, so this one sounds terrific to me. Yeah, this may not scream “Christmas!” right away, but that’s a perfect time to indulge yourself with something refined like this savoury mousse.

  5. sherry May 1, 2024 at 7:35 PM - Reply

    I love Delia! I’ve probably said this before but her recipe for white sauce is fabulous. You literally just throw everything into a saucepan and cook it up – no roux, no lumps, no mucking around. She’s brilliant!

    • Chef Mimi May 2, 2024 at 8:19 AM - Reply

      I almost do that myself, because I’m so imprecise with my cooking, but I’ll have to look that up!

  6. CarolCooks2 May 1, 2024 at 9:42 PM - Reply

    I too love Delia and many of my much cooked recipes especially around Christmas are hers or variations of hers I love this smoked fish mousse a family favourite here anytime of the year :)

    • Chef Mimi May 2, 2024 at 8:20 AM - Reply

      Anytime of the year here. But certainly it’s a treat at the holidays!

  7. Ann Coleman May 2, 2024 at 4:49 PM - Reply

    Looks wonderful to me! And I like Christmas cookbooks best too…

    • Chef Mimi May 2, 2024 at 8:05 PM - Reply

      Christmas AND Christmas cookbooks!!!!

  8. Eva Taylor May 3, 2024 at 7:20 AM - Reply

    Our old favourite French restaurant used to make a dreamy smoked fish mousse that was out of this world. Sadly the restaurant was sold and they don’t put the effort in like the previous owners.

    • Chef Mimi May 4, 2024 at 9:09 AM - Reply

      Ohhhh that’s so sad. Smoked fish mousse really is uniquely wonderful.

  9. Tandy | Lavender and Lime May 3, 2024 at 11:56 PM - Reply

    I have happy memories of Arbroath and buying Arbroath smokies from a young lady who smokes the fish her grandfather catches.

    • Chef Mimi May 4, 2024 at 9:11 AM - Reply

      Oh how wonderful!!! We didn’t stop there unfortunately. I wasn’t aware of the smokies before we went to Scotland.

  10. This dish is so British! I remember eating kippers for breakfast, something my mother loved. But it raises eyebrows here in the U.S. On another note, I love the plate your served it on. Gorgeous and so interesting.

    • Chef Mimi May 5, 2024 at 11:38 AM - Reply

      Oh thank you! I love kippers! Vietri Incanto.

  11. Karen May 4, 2024 at 1:45 PM - Reply

    This would be a lovely appetizer to serve at a party with a glass of champagne or crisp white wine.

    • Chef Mimi May 5, 2024 at 11:35 AM - Reply

      Yes! Maybe even a rosé!

  12. myhomefoodthatsamore May 6, 2024 at 2:08 AM - Reply

    Just the thing for Wimbledon season !

    • Chef Mimi May 6, 2024 at 7:33 AM - Reply

      Oh perfect!!!

  13. Raymund May 7, 2024 at 8:54 PM - Reply

    Wow, this Arbroath Smokie Mousse sounds like a real treat! It’s fascinating how you stumbled upon Delia Smith’s recipe and made it your own. I can almost taste the smoky flavor combined with the creamy texture of the mousse. Yum!

    • Chef Mimi May 8, 2024 at 6:42 AM - Reply

      I’ll never stop buying Arbroath smokies. They’re just a step above any other smoked fish I’ve had!

  14. David Scott Allen May 10, 2024 at 12:54 AM - Reply

    This sounds so good and your presentation is lovely! I have always loved Delia’s recipes!

    • Chef Mimi May 10, 2024 at 12:24 PM - Reply

      I am so behind finding out about her! But I’m making up for lost time!

  15. spicedblog May 10, 2024 at 6:38 AM - Reply

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever made a mousse – well at least not a savory one. I do love smoked flavors in food, so I’m sure I would be all about this one. I’m going to check out that Scottish foods website now!

    • Chef Mimi May 10, 2024 at 12:25 PM - Reply

      Oh, you’ll love it! I love all smoked fish, even trout and salmon.

  16. Anonymous May 12, 2024 at 4:09 PM - Reply

    This mouse looks and sounds amazing! I haven’t used Arbroath Smokie but would get it just to try this recipe!

    • Chef Mimi May 12, 2024 at 6:56 PM - Reply

      That’s how I first tried them, now I keep buying them!

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