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Rillettes of fresh mackerel

Uncategorized | May 24, 2017 | By


I’m always looking out for new, interesting and easy ways to incorporate more oily fish into our diet. And as much as I like an occasional piece of salmon, I do find it a very rich fish. I’m also aware how important it is to use more sustainable oily fish like mackerel, sardine and herring, rather than farmed fish. 

The inspiration came from a shopping trip with a friend in Paris – Shirley was looking for nautical charts and I spotted a shelf of cookbooks for galley cooks. I read a recipe similar to this and thought it sounded simple, fresh and delicious – just my style!
This was served as the starter at a charity event held at my home earlier this spring (you might already have seen the recipe for the dessert course, the rhubarb, almond and polenta cake here). This mackerel recipe was declared ‘affa fine’ by my lovely Scottish friend Issi who took the first two beautiful photos seen above. High praise indeed.
I find the sight of sparklingly fresh mackerel at the local market rather hard to resist these days, now that I have a great recipe to use them in. But on holiday on the Ile de Ré this week I opted for a simpler version* using canned mackerel in brine and I have to say I think it was ‘affa fine’ too.. and  ‘affa easy’ to boot!
Use whatever dairy you have to hand – Greek yogurt, whole milk yogurt, crème fraiche or even regular cream and a little extra lemon juice. I was lucky enough to forage some wild fennel this week on the Ile de Ré, so used that instead of dill, and if you don’t like dill, leave it out.


Fresh mackerel rillettes

(serves 6)

3 medium fresh mackerel
a splash of white wine or vermouth (optional)
2 tbsp dijon/wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp Greek yogurt or crème fraîche
2 spring onions, finely chopped
4 cornichons, very finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped (optional)
fresh dill, finely chopped, to taste (optional)

  1. Fillet the mackerel or ask the fishmonger to do it for you.
  2. Place the fillets in a pan, add just enough water to cover and add a little white wine or vermouth, if desired.
  3. Bring up to a simmer then turn OFF the heat, cover with a lid and leave for 20 mins.
  4. Drain the fish, and remove the skin and any remaining bones. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. In a medium bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  6. Add the flaked mackerel and mix well. Taste, add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning, adding more lemon or olive oil if needed.
  7. Chill until serving with a little dressed watercress salad, or cucumber sticks and GF crackers if desired.

*Easy (holiday) version – use 2 cans of mackerel in brine instead of the fresh mackerel and start the recipe from step 4.


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