Smoked Mackerel Salad

12 August 2018 Dairy Free Gluten Free
This smoked mackerel salad was one of the starters for my Popup at Pump Street Bakery, served alongside beetroot carpaccio and Pump Street focaccia. All of our fish on the menu, including arguably the best smoked mackerel we have ever eaten came from Pinney’s.

Literally down the road from Pump Street Bakery and considered one of the countries finest smoke houses, the mackerel in the salad was delicate and sweet. If you don’t live around the corner from Orford Quay, use the best quality smoked mackerel you can find – usually from your fishmonger or deli, preferably not vacuum sealed.

A version of this salad is seen most summer weekends around here, either as a starter for a large evening gathering or the ideal lunch accompanied by a crusty wedge of your favourite sourdough.   Feel free to make a build your own with your favourite combination of smoked fish and vegetable. We often make a version with hot smoked salmon fillets or smoked trout accompanied by any beautiful looking seasonal veg of choice that we stumble upon in the market or lurking in the back of the fridge.

I grilled the mackerel before serving with some butter for a crispy texture on one side and extra buttery deliciousness, but this step is definitely an optional extra.  

(I know that the length of this recipe looks like a bit of a faff, but really it only takes a few minutes to assemble.  Truly.)

Smoked Mackerel Salad

  • 1 whole smoked mackerel
  • 25g good salted butter (herb or anchovy butter work well here too)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 baby gem hearts
  • 50g rocket leaves
  • 50g lambs lettuce or mache
  • 50g fine green beans, trimmed
  • 8 breakfast radishes

Optional Extras

  • steamed or boiled purple potatoes (or new potatoes if you can’t get your hands on any purple beauties)
  • pickled red onions
  • crumbled goats cheese or feta
  • raw sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
  • fresh peas (when in season)
  • salmon or trout roe always looks gorgeous for a crowd

  • Dresssing
  • Make the salad:
  • I like to serve this on a flat plate rather than a bowl.
  • Grill Mackerel:
  • If you are going to grill the mackerel, turn on your grill to high and line a baking sheet with foil.  
  • Place the mackerel onto the prepared baking sheet and gently open it up so that it is butterflied and the flesh is facing up. Remove the backbone and as many of the bones as you can without breaking up the flesh (you can remove the others as you flake it into the salad).
  • Smear about 25g softened butter over the mackerel and place under the grill for a minute or two (depending on the heat) until it is lightly burnished and crispy.  
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cook while you assemble the rest of the salad.
  • Blanch green beans:
  • If you are using green beans, bring a shallow pan of water to the boil and add a generous pinch of salt.  When boiling, blanch the beans for a minute, making sure they are still bright green and have a crunch. Drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water.
  • Make Jammy Eggs (can be cooked much earlier in the day)
  • Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a full rolling boil.
  • Carefully lower the eggs into the water and cook for EXACTLY 7 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water until cool to the touch.
  • The yolks will be runny, it’s part of the beauty.  If you want them to be firmer, cook for another 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Assemble Salad:
  • Scatter the gem heart leaves, rocket and lambs lettuce over the bottom of the plate.  
  • Slice the beans on the diagonal into halves or thirds, depending on their length, and scatter over.
  • Thinly slice the radishes (we do this on a mandolin), and scatter half over the salad, reserving the other half for garnish on top.
  • Peel the eggs carefully (they will be soft), and quarter.
  • Break up the mackerel flesh into bite size pieces, removing any more bones.  
  • Scatter the flesh and the eggs over the leaves.  This is your creative moment!
  • Top with remaining radishes and spoon over dressing (channel Jackson Pollock).
Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on