August 30th, 2011

Pan-Fried Mackerel; Smoked Mackerel Cakes and Tomato Salad

This exceptionally good looking fish with its shiny blue and silver skin is classed as a humble creature from the sea. It’s not only sustainable but this oily fish is packed with nutrients, iron and is rich in omega 3.

Mackerel is delicious and versatile and can be served hot or cold, smoked, raw or cooked. Due to the rich oily flesh mackerel works best with strong acid flavours such as saffron, lemons, limes, tomatoes, orange, fennel, chilli, ginger and wasabi. The skin of mackerel is thin and therefore crisps up easily and tastes equally delicious. My philosophy about mackerel is to keep it simple; it’s a humble fish, and over-complicating a recipe incorporating mackerel is doing no one any flavours! The combination of using fresh and smoked mackerel adds a different dimension to the dish.

I usually associate tomatoes with mackerel, it might be from the days when my dad used to eat tinned sardines and tomato salad as a snack. Towards the end of Summer when tomatoes are ripening and plentiful, one might wonder what to do with a glut of tomatoes? Well I have the answer to this dilemma; last year I wrote this lovely post on how to preserve them if you have too many. One of the three recipes on there I use the most is the semi-dried tomato recipe. We use lots and lots of them in the restaurant and semi-dry all shapes and sizes from cherry tomatoes to large ripe plum tomatoes, it works all the same and they are truly delicious – with the intense flavour they work beautifully with the oily mackerel.

Smoked Mackerel Cakes

  • 300g mashed potato
  • 200g flaked smoked mackerel
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 free range egg yolk
  • 2tbs chopped mixed herbs such as dill, tarragon, mint, chervil and chives
  • 1tbs chopped drained capers
  • 1tsp grain mustard
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Rapeseed oil for cooking

Mix the mashed potatoes with the flaked smoked mackerel, finely sliced spring onions, egg yolk, chopped herbs and capers, grain mustard, lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice.

Shape 25g cakes 2cm rounds. Serve 2 per portion.

When ready to serve, heat a non-stick frying-pan and fry the cakes until golden on both sides in a splash of rapeseed oil. Cook the mackerel cakes and the fillets at the same time in the same pan.

Pan-Fried Mackerel Salad

  • 4 fillets of mackerel, scaled and pin-bones removed
  • 4tbs rapeseed oil
  • Maldon Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 200g garden peas, frozen is fine
  • 1 bulb of fennel, finely shaved
  • 1tsp chopped tarragon
  • 1tsp chopped mint
  • 20 semi-dried cherry tomatoes
  • 100g green beans, blanched
  • 12 caper berries, cut in half
  • 1 lemon
  • Pea shoot tops

Cut the mackerel in diamond shapes, calculate two diamonds per portion, about 5cm long. Score the skin using a sharp knife, do not cut all the way through the flesh. Set aside until you're ready to cook them.

In a blender or pestle and mortar lightly crush the peas, season and add a dash of rapeseed oil, chopped tarragon and mint and 1/3 of the shaved fennel, season with lemon juice, mix and set aside for the flavours to develop.

In a bowl mix the semi-dried tomaotes, cooked beans, caper berries, pea tops and the rest of the fennel, season and add some lemon juice, place the salad in a serving bowl on the plate.

Heat a non-stick frying-pan with rapeseed oil, season the mackerel fillets and place it with the skin side down in the pan first, cook until the skin is crisp over medium heat for about 3 - 4 minutes, flip the fish over and cook for a further 2 minutes, remove form the pan.

Place the pan-fried cakes on top. Spoon the crushed peas on the plate and place two diamonds of pan-fried mackerel on top. Garnish and serve immediately.

Serves 4

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8 Comments to “Pan-Fried Mackerel; Smoked Mackerel Cakes and Tomato Salad”

  1. dave says:

    great recipe where do you get the little tins from you served the mackeral patties in

  2. Madalene says:

    HI David,

    I buy them from these guy’s

    Happy Cooking

  3. Mark S says:

    Beautiful dish.

    Mackerel is such an under-appreciated fish. Deserves its place up there with Turbot, Sea Bass, John Dory and Red Mullet.

    I use it all the time with various flavours, I like the fact it can hold its own against some strong ingredients.

    I make Mackerel and Horseradish fishcakes and serve it with a beetroot and parsnip puree. The fish still sings loudly through it!

  4. Hendrik says:

    Very nice recipe, will definitely give this a try soon.
    I really love mackerel: It tastes great, it’s cheap and very easy to filet. I have no idea why it’s not more popular around here.

  5. Michelle says:

    Oh my… we love mackerel in our house, and I can’t wait to try out this recipes Madalene. Its such a versatile fish, and so good for you as well. My mouth is just watering looking at this picture. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. I love mackerel – simple is most definitely best. Like straight off the boat grilled with a touch of lemon and olive oil to dress.

  7. Gary says:

    My dad use to have tinned sardines as a snack too, I found it disgusting when I was a kid.
    Particularly like the pan-fried mackerel recipe, simple and delicious.

  8. ISA says:


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