Peppered Smoked Mackerel, Fennel and Beetroot

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a starter or light meal

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A tasty combination of pungent, salty, lemony and sweet – peppery smoked mackerel, crunchy fresh-tasting fennel and sweet grated beetroot. I’ve spiked the beetroot with fennel seeds and cracked black pepper to tame its slightly overpowering flavour.


  • uncooked beetroot 2 small, peeled and coarsely grated
  • black peppercorns ¾ tsp, cracked
  • fennel seeds ¾ tsp, crushed
  • sea salt flakes to taste
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • fennel bulbs 2 small, with fronds
  • baby spinach 2 good handfuls
  • frisée (curly endive) 2 good handfuls
  • peppered mackerel fillets 3, skinned and broken into chunks


Toss the grated beetroot with the peppercorns, fennel seeds, some crumbled sea salt flakes, a tablespoon of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Leave this to develop its flavours while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Trim the fennel bulbs, leaving most of the root attached and reserving the feathery fronds. (Use the tough outer parts for soup or stock.) Slice the bulbs from top to bottom into quarters, then cut each quarter vertically into the thinnest possible slivers. Toss in a bowl with sea salt flakes, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. Chop up some fennel fronds to make two teaspoons and add these too.

Divide the spinach and frisée between the serving plates. Carefully place a small mound of beetroot in the middle – don’t move the beetroot once you’ve positioned it, otherwise the salad will be swimming in red juice. Top with a mound of fennel then scatter chunks of mackerel over the top.


For deliciously crisp mackerel grill it before skinning and serve warm. This gets rid of some of the oiliness and makes the fish crisper. Get the grill good and hot, then put the mackerel, skin-side up, on a rack. Grill for 6 minutes, turning once. Break into chunks leaving the skin on – it will be nicely blistered.