Smoked Mackerel Salad, Two Ways
On hot summer days when you just don’t want to turn on the oven, salads can be an appealing dinner option. Today I have two versions of a smoked mackerel salad that offer plenty of flavor and protein with little to no cooking required.
I love the oily nature of mackerel. True, the flavor can be intense for some, but smoking it seems to round out the flavor a bit, creating just the right balance. I buy frozen fillets at Scandinavian Specialties in Seattle. Perusing the shelves of imported pantry items and the chilled cases for cheeses, meats, and fish never fails to inspire me in some way, and whenever I visit, I like to pick up a few things to keep in the freezer to have on hand for an easy meal or some recipe inspiration.
Here are the two smoked mackerel salads you’ll see here today:
Smoked Mackerel Salad with Radishes and Vinegary Cucumbers
Beginning with a bed of arugula dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper, the salad is then topped with sliced radishes, cucumbers, and bite-sized pieces of smoked mackerel, then garnished with wisps of fresh dill.
The typical Scandinavian side dish of cucumbers sliced and marinated in vinegar, salt, and herbs is a regular feature on my dinner table, and leftovers are a great way to add extra flavor to the recipe I’m sharing today. However, just plain sliced cucumber do the trick as well.
A Variation with Rhubarb, Pickled Beets, and Hard-Boiled Egg
If you enjoy that salad, then consider pairing smoked mackerel with steamed or roasted rhubarb—the tartness of the bracing stalks softens a bit when cooked, even without sugar. Take the base recipe below as your guide, but try beginning with a bed of tender butter lettuce (you can use the same dressing). Pile on the smoked mackerel and nestle little bits of cooked rhubarb, pickled beets, and slices of hard-boiled egg around, garnishing with dill. It’s equally satisfying, and quite pretty.
No matter how you serve it, smoked mackerel offers a satisfying punch of flavor with little effort.
Smoked Mackerel Salad with Radishes and Vinegary CucumbersDaytona Strong
For the salad
- 1 pound smoked mackerel skin & bones removed
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 4 radishes thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Scandinavian cucumber salad or sliced cucumbers
- Fresh dill for garnish
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pinch freshly-ground black pepper
- Break the mackerel into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together until emulsified. Dip a leaf of arugula into the dressing to check the balance, and adjust as needed; arugula is already peppery, so checking the dressing with a leaf will help determine the right mix of flavors.
- In a large mixing bowl, pour the dressing over the arugula and toss until evenly coated and glistening. Divide between four plates. Arrange the mackerel, radishes, and cucumber salad on each. Garnish with dill. Serve immediately.