Comprising equal parts smoked fish and cream cheese, Carlson’s smoked fish contains a few dribbles of half-and-half—“more for consistency,” Carlson notes. A dusting of garlic powder lends a sweeter, less assertive garlic flavor than raw garlic, and lemon juice lends a much-needed jolt of brightness in this salty spread. On that note, smoked fish is quite salty on its own, so taste the final product before adding salt.
“It’s not complicated—a simple process with good ingredients,” Carlson says. “I’ll happily share our secrets with whoever asks. But it won’t taste quite like when you come to Leland and buy it at our shop.”
- Flake the fish into big pieces with a fork and add them to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix until it comes together, taking care to leave a few big hunks of fish.
- Thin with additional cream or lemon if needed.
- Serve immediately with crackers, schmear it on a bagel, or, hell, spoon it directly into your mouth. Store it, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Maggie Hennessy is a freelance food and drink journalist and chef. The former restaurant critic for Time Out Chicago, Hennessy's work has also appeared in such publications as Bon Appetit, Salon, and Food52. Find her at maggiehennessy.com.