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Salt Cured Mackerel Salad with Samphire and Grapefruit

Salt cured mackerel fillet salad with grapefruit, samphire, quick “pickled” radishes and shallots served with crispy toasted rye read.

There are lots of elements to this light main course salad, but there is only 5-6 minutes of cooking time, the rest of it is all preparation and presentation!

Overhead salt cured mackerel fillet salad with grapefruit, samphire and toasted rye bread.

Mackerel and Samphire Salad

I have alluded to the fact that I love mackerel a lot here on Krumpli.

This cured mackerel fillet salad represents part of the spectrum of my food heaven. I don’t really care what my last meal is so long as it has glorious mackerel on it!

It is a wonderful fish, it tastes amazing, it is “cheap” and it is just as good smoked as it is fresh.

My smoked mackerel recipes range from mackerel kedgeree and smoked mackerel frittata to this smoked mackerel salad with apple and bacon.

Fresh mackerel recipes are equally diverse, I have everything from whole baked mackerel with potatoes and devilled mackerel fillets to a wonderful Indian mackerel curry.

My latest offering is a home salt-cured mackerel salad with samphire, grapefruit, quick pickles and rye bread.

It’s a dish that screams about the alchemy of cooking. The oily string flavour of mackerel is a beautiful contrast to the sharp and fruity grapefruit.

And that grapefruit runs throughout the dish, the zest appears in the salt cure and some of the flesh gets charred and served in the dish.

In addition, the juice is used to make a sweet pickle for radishes and it also features in the dressing.

The sour saltiness of samphire seasons the dish and it is rounded out with some beautiful rye bread to add texture and body.

I adore this dish, it feels special, yet it is remarkably cheap to make and it’s a real looker too!

Close-up salt cured mackerel fillet salad with grapefruit, samphire and toasted rye bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by “V-Cut” the bones from the mackerel fillets?

There are two approaches to boning fish, the first is to use some tweezers and pull the pin bones.

The second is to V-cut the bones out. I prefer this method in this recipe because you are guaranteed to get rid of all the bones!

You take a very sharp knife and make a V-shaped cut (Imaginative hey) on each side of the bones along the centre of the fish, taking care not to cut through the flesh. Then pull away the attached flesh and bones.

What is Samphire?

Samphire is a sea “herb” that seems to be fairly closely associated with the UK, sorry if you are reading this form outside of the UK!

Can I use anything other than samphire?

Yes, this dish works well with thin asparagus and even tenderstem broccoli. You do need to season both generously with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Is there an alternative to using grapefruit?

Yes, this recipe works really well with a couple of large oranges, but it is a little sweeter.

You should consider adding a little vinegar (apple, white wine or sherry vinegars work well) to the pickling liquid at stage 7.


This is a cured fish recipe, as a result, you want your fish to be as fresh as possible. So make friends with a local fishmonger, tell them what you are making and take their lead.

Close-up overhead salt cured mackerel fillet salad with grapefruit, samphire and toasted rye bread.

Recipe Variations

This section of my recipe is usually reserved for serving suggestions. However, I think this salt-cured mackerel salad is perfectly balanced as it is.

But there is lots here for you to play with and I have a few suggestions to make this wonderful salad your own.

First of all, I am aware that samphire is not always readily available, particularly if you do not live in the UK. Asparagus makes a wonderful alternative despite it having a very different flavour.

Use thin asparagus spears, cut off the tips and cut the stems into bite-sized pieces. Cook them for a minute longer than the samphire but in the same way, and add a quarter teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of grapefruit juice to the water.

If grapefruit is not your thing, use some oranges, blood oranges are particularly good. The process of making this salad is identical, although I would add a tablespoon or two (depending on the sweetness of the orange) to the pickling liquid (step 7).

As for the bread, go to town, choose what you like! But I love the earthy almost sour flavour of sourdough rye bread with this recipe.

If you are not digging the bread, toss in some boiled baby potatoes ether room temperature or slightly warm and job done!

Salt cured mackerel fillet salad with grapefruit, samphire and toasted rye bread.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Blowtorch or a grill/broiler.
  • Hob/stovetop.
  • 15cm or 6″ saucepan.
  • 2 baking trays large enough to hold the mackerel fillets.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Citrus zester.
  • Fish tweezers if you are pin boning the fish.
  • Mixing bowls.
  • A jar or bowl to make the dressing.
  • Fine mesh sieve.
Salt cured mackerel salad with samphire, grapefruit, radish, shallot and rye bread.
Yield: 2 Servings

Salt Cured Mackerel Salad Recipe with Samphire and Grapefruit

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This simple midweek salad features quick salt cured mackerel fillets with toasted rye bread, samphire and quick "pickled" radishes and shallots, it's gloriously vibrant and zingy and outrageously tasty!


  • 4 (350g) Total Mackerel Fillets
  • 50g (2-3 Small) Shallots
  • 50g (4-5 Small) Radishes
  • 1 (350g) Red Grapefruit
  • 2 Tbsp Rapeseed Oil
  • 20g (1 Tbsp) Honey
  • 150g (½ Cup) Salt (Plus extra to season the dressing)
  • 50g (¼ Cup) Sugar
  • 75g (1½ Cups) Samphire
  • 50ml (3-4 Tbsp) Water
  • 75g (2 Slices) Rye Bread


  1. If your mackerel fillets are not pin-boned, either v-cut out the bones or get to work with some tweezers and remove them. Then flip over the fillets so they are flesh side down and make shallow cuts through the skin around 1cm (½") apart from each other.
  2. Peel the shallots, cut them into rounds as thinly as you can (around 1mm) and place them in a small-medium bowl.
  3. Top and tail the radishes and cut them into rounds the same thickness as the onions, then toss them into the bowl with the shallots.
  4. Zest the grapefruit and set the zest aside. Then top and tail the grapefruit, and cut the zest from the flesh using a sharp kitchen knife forming a barrel of flesh. Cut the segments from the membrane (do this over a bowl to save the juice) and set them aside, then squeeze out the juice from the remaining membrane.
  5. Take 1 tablespoon of the juice and place it in a jar with the rapeseed oil, half of the honey, ½ teaspoon of the grapefruit zest and a pinch of salt and black pepper (do this to taste), place the lid on the jar, give it a shake and set it aside.
  6. Mix the salt and sugar with the remaining grapefruit zest and set aside.
  7. Add the remaining grapefruit juice to a small 15cm or 6" saucepan, add the remaining tablespoon of honey and set it aside.
  8. Take 2 baking trays and sprinkle around a third of the salt and sugar mix over one of the trays and spread it out so that it is roughly the same size as the mackerel fillets, and place the mackerel fillets onto, skin side down. Sprinkle the remaining curing salt over the flesh of the mackerel, cover with baking parchment, add the second baking tray to weigh down the fish and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  9. Place the saucepan with the honey, and grapefruit juice on the hob/stove top and bring it to a boil. Then pour this "pickling" mixture over the shallots and radishes, mix and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then drain the veggies and set them aside.
  10. Whilst the fish is curing and the pickles are sitting, place the grapefruit slices on a baking tray and give them a bit of colour with a blow torch, you can slide them under a hot grill (broiler) if you prefer.
  11. When the mackerel has had 20 minutes remove it from the curing mix, rinse it under cold water to remove any excess salt and dry it well with kitchen paper.
  12. Cut 2 slices of rye bread to a thickness of around 7-12mm (¼-½") depending on your preference. Just before you are ready to serve heat a griddle pan and toast the rye bread on both sides.
  13. Whilst the bread is toasting heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a high heat and add 3-4 tablespoons of water, when it boils toss in the samphire and cook it for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  14. Finally, place the mackerel on a tray and give it a quick blast with a blow torch to warm the skin a little, again you can do this under a hot grill or broiler if you prefer.
  15. Finally serve drizzled with the dressing you made earlier.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 805Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 1548mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 6gSugar: 24gProtein: 47g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Friday 21st of April 2017

What a lovely fresh and delicious dish. It looks perfect for spring time.

Brian Jones

Monday 24th of April 2017

Cheers Dannii


Friday 21st of April 2017

What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

Brian Jones

Monday 24th of April 2017

Thanks Suzy.

Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food

Friday 21st of April 2017

I am a pyro at heart, so anything involving a blowtorch—I'm THERE. I live in Wisconsin, so it's very hard to find fresh seafood that doesn't require me to hand over my left arm at the checkout counter. Combine that with ASPARAGUS pulled from your GARDEN, and I turn a lovely shade of envy-green. I'm headed straight to the seafood counter, though: in the final analysis, this beautiful dish is well worth the pain-in-the-wallet.

Brian Jones

Monday 24th of April 2017

I definitely know how that seafood thing works, I live in landlocked Hungary and have to cross international borders to get seafish or at least the fish does anyway... But hey, we are worth it occasionally right ;)

Platter Talk

Friday 21st of April 2017

Beautifully done! What a tastefully executed dish.

Brian Jones

Monday 24th of April 2017

Cheers Dan,


Friday 21st of April 2017

You had me at blowtorch.

Brian Jones

Monday 24th of April 2017

Hahahaha, rahh, manly :D

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