Mackerel Recipe

Try fermenting mackerel fillets with herbs for a dish teeming with flavor and probiotics. Sardines and anchovies can also be used.

| June 2019

Makes: 1 pound
Prep Time: 5 minutes, overnight rest, 10 minutes
Fermentation Time: 24 hours, 1 to 2 weeks aging
Skill Level: Beginner

Fermented mackerel is a delightful dish when served either raw or pan-fried. Using a blend of spices and herbs, this simple seafood dish is suddenly teeming with the flavors of fennel and pepper in just a few short days. Refrigerate it longer to further age it and develop more complex flavors. Select high-quality mackerel or substitute whole sardines or anchovies for a different (but still delightful) dish.


  •  1 pound filleted mackerel
  • 5 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons whey
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Rinse the mackerel fillets in clean water and pat dry. Sprinkle the fillets on both sides with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and place them on a plate, covered with cheesecloth. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The following day, remove the cheesecloth and drain any liquid from the fish. Pat the fish dry using a paper towel or clean kitchen towel, and place it in a clean jar.
  3. Prepare the brine by combining the water, remaining 3. teaspoons salt, and all the other ingredients. Pour the brine over the fish.
  4. Weight down the fish to keep it submerged in the brine, cover the jar with cheesecloth, and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  5. The following day, place the lid on the jar and refrigerate the fish. The fillets will improve in flavor after about 1 or 2 weeks, and should be eaten within 1 month.


Mix 1 cup fermented mackerel with 1/2 cup crème fraiche, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash each of salt and pepper to create a quick and easy fish spread. Try it on crackers or in a sandwich for a refreshing, filling treat.

Also from DIY Fermentation

diy-fermentationFermentation has given us some of the food world's most treasured delights, and with DIY Fermentation, making delicious probiotic foods in your own kitchen has never been easier. Accessible overviews of fundamental fermentation techniques and step-by-step recipes provide the basic skills you will turn to again and again as you experiment with nourishing ferments at home. Work your way through a wide range of do-it-yourself fermentation projects with 100+ recipes to make your own sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, yogurt, vinegar, kombucha, hard apple cider, and more; recipes ranging from beginner to advanced to put your skills to the test; detailed troubleshooting guides to ensure fermentation success; insider tips and anecdotes from fermentation experts; step-by-step illustrations to stay on track; and a bonus chapter integrating homemade ferments into everyday cooking. Enjoy all the health benefits and delicious flavors of naturally fermented vegetables, fruits, dairy, beverages, breads, condiments, and much more with this invaluable guide to unleash your inner DIYer and master your fermentation skills.

Reprinted with permission from DIY Fermentation: Over 100 Step-by-Step Home Fermentation Recipes by Katherine Green and published by Rockridge Press, 2015.



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