Soused Mackerel with Warm Potatoes

Sousing or pickling is usually associated with raw fish. This recipe is slightly different. The mackerel is heated briefly in its spicy liquor, then served warm with the potatoes. This makes the liquor a sauce, and the addition of potato makes the mackerel a complete dish.


  • 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots or 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 star anise, a few fresh basil leaves, 2 sprigs each of fresh thyme and tarragon tied in a square of muslin or a strip of leek leaves) or bouquet garni sachet
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 50 ml (2 fl oz) olive oil
  • 100 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) dry white wine
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) white wine vinegar
  • 600 ml (1 pint) water
  • 4 mackerel fillets, all bones removed
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 quantity Mashed Potatoes with lemon and shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Cook all the sliced vegetables in a pan with the bouquet garni, peppercorns, olive oil and half the butter for a few minutes. Add the white wine, wine vinegar and water and simmer for about 10–12 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. This is your sousing liquor. Allow to cool and remove the bouquet garni.

Place the fillets in a lightly buttered flameproof dish and cover with the liquor and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Bring slowly to the simmer then remove from the heat. The fish is now ready.

Spoon some of the hot mashed potatoes into serving bowls and sit the mackerel on top. Stir the remaining butter and the parsley into the cooking liquor. Spoon the vegetables and sauce around the fish and serve.