Very fresh mackerel – cleaned and filleted with skin on

Salt – enough to cover both sides of fillet generously

Rice Wine Vinegar – enough to cover the fillet in a container/tray

Served with roasted Pumpkin and sautéed cabbage


All you need is mackerel, salt and rice wine vinegar. Get a very fresh mackerel, simply cure the fillet and turn it into one of the best sushi toppings! No cooking, just marinating!

Depending on the season and where the fish was caught, the amount of fat contained in mackerel varies. We are lucky in the west of Ireland with this brilliant fish. Mackerel grilled with just a bit of salt is divine when the fish is oily.

Cured Mackerel

Prep Time

3 hrs 15 mins


Coat each fillet with generous amount of salt so that the entire surface of both skin side and flesh side are covered.

Place the fillets on a plate/tray ensuring that one side of the plate/tray is raised, so that the moisture extracted from the fillets will be collected on one side and does not soak the fillets. Leave it for 1 hour in the fridge.

Fill a bowl with water. Rinse the fillet gently in the bowl and pat dry with paper towel.

Place the fillets in a tray or a deep flat bottomed plate, add rice wine vinegar so that it almost covers the fillet. Leave for 2 hours in the fridge.

Place the fillet skin side down. Using a pair of tweezers, remove the small bones where the backbone was. If you run your finger along the centre of the fillet, you should feel the bones.

Turn the fillet over and place it skin side up, pointing the tail end to the right.

Starting from the tip of the head side of the fillet, which is on the left, pinch the corner of the very thin, semi-transparent skin and lift it up to start peeling.

Peel the skin towards the tail and remove the entire skin. As you peel the skin, hold the fillet on the head side with your left hand so that the fillet will not move.

Slice the fillet 1cm (⅜”) thick if you are serving it as part of temakizushi. If serving as sashimi, slice them 1.5cm (⅝”) thick and make a shallow incision in the middle on the skin.

Recipe Notes

  1. The two fillets I used were about 180g in total.
  2. I used about 19g (0.7oz) of salt to cover the two fillets.
  3. This will entirely depend on the size of the container. A container/tray that just fits in two fillets would be most economical. I used about 250ml of vinegar to cover the fillets.

You could also use a zip lock plastic bag but I find that the vinegar will not penetrate evenly unless you can make the vinegar cover all of the fillet in some way.

  1. I have a round steaming basket and I can adjust the diameter by opening and closing it. When fully opened, it becomes almost flat.
  2. Marinating time for the fillets depends on the size of the fillets, freshness of the fish and your preference of how much you want the fish to be cured.

The shortest time is 15 minutes. We leave for 2 hours. However Marinating too long will make the entire flesh turn white which does not look appetising in my view.

  1. The bones along the backbone are attached diagonal to the body of the fish. When removing the tiny bones, pull them in the direction of the bones so that they will not damage the flesh when pulled out.
  2. When peeling the skin around the belly, try to pull the skin towards the belly, instead of towards the tail. Because the meat is very thin, it tends to break and go with the skin if you pull towards the tail. Once the skin in the belly area is peeled, then you can easily peel off the rest.
Sources fish sustainably
Sources fish sustainably