Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber, Horseradish and Herbs

I admit two posts in almost two days sounds like gloating and I am really sorry if it does, please see it as very very enthusiastic. I had to eventually wipe the smile which said ‘I fished-in the sea-on-a-boat-and-caught-real-fish’ off my face. We woke up to pretty grim weather and when Thomas Nillson Grebbestad the fisherman came back to us about a possible fishing trip we were all a bit ‘ugh’ but realised soon that fishing in sweltering temperatures would not be fun either, so we braved the weather and off we went. img_3937

Again, fairly sceptical (I blame a Calvinistic upbringing) I was not hopeful of our fishing abilities, but it is Mackerel season after all and Thomas the fisherman sounded hopeful. Mackerel has to swim and feed constantly so no bait is needed. We were all eager and dropped our 6 lines with haste, which were attached to the boat (3 on the left and 3 on the right). Each line had two hooks on so the odds were definitely stacked in our favour. The kids had the left side and the ‘grown-ups’ the right. We watched in anticipation as the kids pulled out mackerel after mackerel very successfully on their own and we were only called in to help to take the hooks out.img_3939

Mackerel is such a wonderful fish lending itself to various cooking methods and it could not get any fresher than this, so we decided to have a Mackerel day! Once we sorted out the Mackerel we decided that the smaller fish would be perfect for a quick lunch, simply filleted (and pinboned) and fried in a pan. We travelled with our trusty little Weber all the way from London and so far it has come into good use, dinner would be grilled Mackerel – my favourite way of preparing Mackerel.

One would think we had enough of Mackerel after our splendid catch in Sweden but apparently not. We headed for Oslo and decided to give the cool and funky Kampen Bistro a go. The menu concept is one that I like as it makes life easy (if you eat everything). One starter, choice of two mains, fish or meat, and one dessert. Guess what was the fish on the menu? Yip, but not any Mackerel. My plate arrived which was a wonderful display of greens and a massive Mackerel Steak. I looked at the husband and said, I don’t think this is Mackerel, it must be Tuna. I asked the waiter who then called the chef over -oh boy I was in trouble! Thankfully the very lovely chef then showed me a photo of the 300kg Mackerel caught earlier the previous day. It was huge! The kitchen ordered in  a 30kg piece of Mackerel. Imagine that? Anyway it was wonderful and I have asked for the photo which I will post immediately once received.

The pictures are a bit confusing as the picture is of the pan fried mackerel with potatoes and pickled cucumber, thus I added a picture of our BBQ grilled mackerel as well in the hope to clear the confusion but I might of made it worse – a little imagination is required.

Grilled Mackerel with Pickled Cucumber, (horseradish if I had some) Potatoes and Onions



  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1tspn sherry vinegar
  • 1tspn light soya sauce
  • 4 Mackerels (gutted)
  • 20g horseradish (finely grated)


If I had more supplies and not stuck in the middle of nowhere I would garnish the dish with loads of fresh herbs like dill (loads), chervil, tarragon and some coriander.

Creme Fraiche would also work well, I know, why not make it a ‘green’ creme fraiche? Whizz all herbs above with a small tub of creme fraiche. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and garnish with fine fresh dill sprigs. I miss my own kitchen!

Pickled Cucumber

  • 200ml apple juice
  • 30g flat leaf parsley (leaves picked)
  • 25ml white wine vinegar
  • 2 lebanese cucumbers or baby cucumbers, thinly sliced on a mandolin

Potatoes and Onions

  • two onions thinly sliced
  • 500g potatoes diced into about 5x5cm blocks
  • 1tspn paprika
  • 1tspn fennel seeds
  • salt and pepper


Pickled Cucumber

  1. Combine the ingredients (except the cucumber) in a blender with 250ml water and 1/2 tspn sea salt flakes till combine. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a non-reactive bowl (see note).
  2. Add the cucumber and stand at room temperature to pickle for at least 3-4 hours

Potatoes and Onions

  1. Place potatoes in cold water and bring to a gentle boil – boil until cooked through but not falling apart. The best way to test this is with a cutlery knife. Drain and place lid on to keep warm.
  2. Gently fry the onions until soft, add the paprika, salt, pepper and fennel seeds, increase the heat slightly to get a slight colour on the onions.
  3. Add the potatoes to the onion mixture and carefully stir to combine – keep warm.

Grilled Mackerel

  1. Get your charcoal barbecue ready (or a char-grill pan) to high heat.
  2. Mix the oil, Sherry vinegar and soy sauce in a bowl and set aside. Brush the mackerel with the oil mixture and season both sides with salt.
  3. Cook skin-side down until skin is well crisp and grilled. Turn and cook until almost cooked through. Depending on the size of the fish this might take longer than you expect. Feel free to keep on basting the fish.If you are grilling individual fillets 3-4minutes.


Arrange cucumbers and fish on plates, drizzle with a little pickling liquid, scatter with horseradish and fresh herbs and serve warm.

Wine Suggestions: Would go nicely with a slightly off-dry Riesling 

Kitchen Notes

+ The terms “reactive” and “nonreactive” are referring to the type of metal from which your pot or bowl is made. Aluminum, cast iron, and copper are all “reactive.” Stainless steel, ceramic, glass and metal cookware with enamel coating are all “nonreactive.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Clare says:

    Wow! Doesn’t get fresher than that!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s