Marinated mackerel with green olive & celery dressing

Mackerel is undoubtedly a British superfood but it can leave your kitchen full of pungent aromas.  You can avoid this by lightly pickling instead of cooking it, like in this fresh-tasting recipe

  • Prep:10 mins
    Cook:5 mins
    plus 1 hr pickling and overnight marinating
  • Serves 4
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 638
  • fat 58g
  • saturates 10g
  • carbs 8g
  • sugars 8g
  • fibre 1g
  • protein 20g
  • salt 1.8g


  • 2 mackerel, filleted and pin bones removed
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 3 banana shallots, sliced into rings
  • 1 ½ tbsp golden caster sugar
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 150ml red wine vinegar
  • 10 green olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 1 tsp chopped celery leaves
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • crème fraîche, to serve (optional)



As an oily fish, mackerel spoils quickly. Try to buy it from a fishmonger on the day you are going to use it. Look for clear, bright eyes, firm bodies and pink or bright-red gills. Avoid mackerel with dull, wrinkled skin.



  1. Lay the mackerel fillets, skinside down, in a shallow dish, then sprinkle with the fennel seeds and 1 1/2 tbsp flaky salt, making sure you cover the fish evenly. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for 1 hr, then remove, wash off the salt and fennel seeds, and pat the fish dry with kitchen paper.

  2. Return the fish to the shallow dish, skin-side up, pour over the olive oil and scatter over the shallots. Put the sugar, lemon juice and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then pour the hot liquid over the fish. Leave to cool, cover in cling film and put in the fridge to marinate overnight. 

  3. The next day, remove the fish from the fridge 1 hr before serving to bring it to room temperature, then transfer to a serving plate. Stir in the olives, celery and celery leaves. Leave for a few mins, then serve with lemon wedges and a couple of spoonfuls of crème fraîche.

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