As the captain of an emergency response vessel working around the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago, lifelong North Fork fisherman Phil Karlin said he never would have thought that renaming the smoked fish dips he’s always made to smoke fish pâté would make such a difference in how the product sells.
“Smoked fish always seemed like a nice fit to the Greenmarket business in the city,” he said. “And once I started calling it pâté instead of dip, all of the sudden customers started asking for it a lot.”
Karlin began the North Fork Smoked Fish Company about two years ago, working to smoke everything from locally caught bluefish and striped bass to fresh Atlantic salmon and swordfish using discard vines from local wineries. He works out of a space at Pe & Dd Seafood on Middle Road in Riverhead, but he said that business has grown so much in the past year especially in the New York City markets that he’s outgrown the Riverhead facility.
And coming from a North Fork fishing family — his father still fishes out of the Mattituck Inlet — Karlin, a 50-year-old who lives with his family in Cutchogue, said he’s looking for a bigger production facility closer to home.
“I’m looking for something 800 to 1,000 square feet, with a septic system, running water, electric,” he said. “There are a few places out there but just a little out of my price range right now. I’m looking for something off-the-beaten-path, because I’m not looking to do my own retail.”
Karlin said that Billy’s By the Bay restaurant in Greenport serves his products, which include smoked whole fish fillets and scallops, as did the Love Lane Market in Mattituck before it closed after Hurricane Sandy.
Though he said he'd like to eventually have more retail reach on the East End, Karlin said that the New York City pâté right now is his bread and butter.
A reviewer from New York City’s Tasting Table magazine called Karlin’s handmade pâté, which is mixed with a touch of mayonnaise and fresh chives, “easily spreadable and compulsively snackable.”
“We make it and sell it fresh with a 15-day shelf life,” Karlin said. “It’s some of the freshest fish pâté you can get — 99 percent of what you get from the bigger manufacturers use thickeners and preservatives and it’s just not the same.”
Click here to go to North Fork Smoked Fish Co.'s website and like them on Facebook here.
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