Mackerel en Escabeche

This is a very slight modification to Sophie Grigson’s version of the Spanish pickled fish recipe, here done with mackerel. The original actually uses whole trout but I like fillets as a starter for a summer garden party in years when the weather is conducive. One great advantage is that it must be made ahead of time so the final day is less of a rush. I like to dilute the white wine vinegar with water to make the result a little gentler. Depending on your wine vinegar and taste, you may want to use straight vinegar, as in the original.


serves: 8
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 10 mins


  • 8 mackerel fillets
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil, for frying
  • ½ cucumber, peeled & sliced thinly
  • 1 red onion, sliced paper thin
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded & sliced thinly
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp allspice berries, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml water (or more wine vinegar, depending on taste)
  • 85ml olive oil


Rub the lemon juice on both sides of the mackerel fillets, season and leave for 30 minutes. Dry them on kitchen towel and fry them in hot olive oil until lightly browned on both sides. Place them in a shallow dish.

Place the remaining ingredients (from the cucumber down) in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for three minutes, stirring a little to blend. Pour this marinade over the fish, allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate over night.

Get a pdf version of this recipe

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