Grilled Mackerel (or Tinned Sardine) Dijon Salad

One of the surprising pleasures of lockdown is being able to buy Cornish fish on line (, even in obscure parts of our land-locked countryside. Mackerel is abundant at the moment and this simple yet simply wonderful salad is made with grilled mackerel fillets on Dijon mustard-spread toast. I have made a similar version with tinned sardines; all required in that case, is carefully split the little fish lengthways and ease out the backbone, everything else is entirely edible. So, you get a crusty toast base, a smear of butter and another of creamy mustard, the grilled fish and a crisp salad of lettuce and pickled cucumber with chives (everything with chives for me at the moment thanks to a flourishing bed in the garden) and lemon Dijon vinaigrette.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 min

Cook: 15 min

¼ cucumber

1 tbsp cider or wine vinegar

4 mackerel fillets

4 slices bread


2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 little gem lettuce hearts (or similar)

1 dsp snipped chives

for the vinaigrette:

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp honey

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp finely snipped chives

Halve the cucumber lengthways, use a teaspoon to remove the seeds. Remove alternating strips of cu peel to achieve a striped effect. Slice across the halves into thin half moons. Place in a shallow bowl with 1 tbsp vinegar. Toss and leave. Check over the fish for bones. This is important; slide an index finger over the fillets and use tweezers to remove stray bones. Place the mackerel skin-side uppermost on a sheet of foil in a shallow roasting tin. Heat the grill and when hot, place the fish close to the grill and cook for about 5 minutes until the skin blisters and splits, the fish firm and just cooked through. Remove the tin. Next make the vinaigrette by placing the mustard in a mixing bowl, season with salt and black pepper, stir in the lemon juice and then honey and whisk in the vegetable oil followed by olive oil, to make a thick, creamy, pale yellow dressing. Toast the bread, spread with butter and lavishly with mustard. Place in the middle of 4 dinner plates and pile with mackerel. Place 2 tbsp of vinaigrette in a mixing bowl. Scoop the cu into the bowl and add lengthways halves, quickly rinsed lettuce leaves. Toss. Divide salad over and around the toasts and finish with a chive garnish.