Pickled Pacific Mackerel and Lentil Salad

Pickling fish is a very traditional way of preserving it but one not as widely used in Canada as it should be.   If you cannot find really fresh mackerel,  any firm white fish will work. This Lentil Salad, provided by  Vancouver chef Jefferson Alvarez,  could easily stand on its own as a filling for pita or as a topping for warm flatbread.


  • 2 lbs  (1 kg)  whole mackerel, heads removed, fillet and deboned.
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled or if in season use 4 ramp bulbs
  • 2 medium shallots, halved lengthwise
  • 32 g ginger, thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) salt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water 
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil or cold pressed canola oil
  • Additional oil, as needed
  • Lentil Salad (Recipe Follows)

Add garlic, shallots, ginger, parsley, tarragon, and the rest of the spices in a pot.  Add salt, sugar and pepper then pour in water and vinegar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes.

Uncover and let cool, then transfer to nonmetallic container and add the two fillets of mackerel. Refrigerate for one day then remove from the pickling liquid and preserve in good quality olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

To serve, divide Lentil Salad between four chilled plates and top with the Pickled Mackerel.

Makes 4 servings.

Lentil Salad

  • 1 ¼ (310 mL) cups green lentils
  • 20 small cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped shallots
  • ½ cup (125 mL)trimmed and chopped radishes
  • ½  cup (125 mL) minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) of chopped mint
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, brunoise
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) cider vinegar
  • ½ cup (125 mL) good, cold pressed canola or sunflower oil

Cook lentils in pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Place in large bowl, let cool.

Toss in the tomatoes, shallots, radishes, parsley, mint, pepper and cumin.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil.

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