Marinated Mackerel

Mackerel is a cheap and tasty fish that is healthy as well because it is full of the omega 3 fatty acids. In this recipe the fat mackerel is paired with a tart marinade and sweet onions. This preparation is very easy and perfect for summer, as it is served cold. It is a simplified version of a Venetian recipe called pesce in saor. I’ve posted about a sous-vide version of that before, but I realised you don’t even need sous-vide to get the same effect. With any fish recipe it is important not to overcook the fish. In this case it is impossible to overcook the mackerel, because the mackerel is cooked in the hot marinade. If you like you can add raisins, pine nuts, and cinnamon to turn this into pesce in saor, but it is great just like this.


For 4 small servings as part of mixed antipasti

fillets of 1 fresh mackerel of about 500 grams (1.1 lbs)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

160 ml (2/3 cup) dry white wine

60 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

slices of lemon, for serving


Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add 1 thinly sliced onion.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is golden and tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

Add 160 ml (2/3 cup) dry white wine…

…and 60 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar.

Add 1 bay leaf and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the center with bones out of the 2 mackerel fillets, so you will end up with 4 fillets.

Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.

When the marinade has been reduced, keep it hot (near boiling) over low heat. Arrange a layer of onions in a container that is just big enough to contain the mackerel fillets in a single layer. Arrange the mackerel fillets on top of the onions.

Arrange the remaining onions on top, and pour the hot marinade over the mackerel.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of minced fresh flat leaf parsley.

Cover and allow the mackerel to cook in the hot marinade while it cools off. Carefully turn the mackerel after half an hour. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 6 or up to 24 hours.

Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Serve with slices of lemon.


Looking for a fancy side dish made from leeks? Then look no further, because these leek tarts taste as great as they look and you can prepare them in advance.


13 thoughts on “Marinated Mackerel

  1. Big smile on my face: first you made brawn, now a version of ‘skumbria’. Interesting recipe I have to try as soon as I get hold of really fresh fish. In my neck of the woods the fish fillets are usually very lightly fried and then the onions [often carrot slices also] and sauce put on top: a favourite cold smorgasbord dish which may also boast a tomatoey sauce as a variant . . . interesting and thanks!!!


    1. Lightly frying is the usual preparation in Italy as well for “in saor”. The tomato version is sold canned around here. You make a good point that this is excellent served on bread (smorgasbord).


  2. Mackerel is sold as bait fish here in the U.S to catch bottom feeding fish such as halibut. I’m not sure it’s sold for human consumption that I know of. But then again, may be your species of Mackerel is tastier than ours? Questions to ponder….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Commenting from Australia, any mackerel here is highly advised by all doctors and health departments as being one of the healthiest fish to eat. Hence it tends to be overfished and is almost on the ‘endangered list’. With all the wonderful recipes one can make and enjoy [including Stefan’s which I learned to eat in my birth country of Estonia] I do hope you will give it a ‘go’ 🙂 !]

      Liked by 2 people

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