Pickled Mackerel

Pickled Mackerel

The chef Kyle Connaughton’s recipe for pickled mackerel is straight out of the Japanese playbook. It’s simple and foolproof to prepare, and the time it takes is mostly unattended. He serves it plain or over rice that’s been dressed with some cucumber and toasted sesame seeds. I also tried seasoning the rice with a couple of spoonfuls of the leftover vinegar marinade plus grated ginger, black sesame seeds, minced scallions and diced avocado, and Mr. Connaughton seconded that idea, as well as the notion of serving the pickled fish Scandinavian-style, with sour cream, sweet onions and boiled potatoes.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Remove any pin bones from the fish. Place fish in a dish or nonreactive pan with sides, and dust fish on both sides liberally with salt, about 1/3 cup, covering it completely. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Step 2

    Combine 1 cup of the vinegar with the kombu and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep for 3 minutes. Add remaining vinegar.
  3. Step 3

    Remove fish from refrigerator, rinse off the salt with cold water and pat fish dry. Rinse dish and return fish to the dish. Discard kombu and pour vinegar mixture over fish so it is completely submerged, cover dish and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Step 4

    Remove fish from vinegar mixture, pat dry, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours or longer before slicing.
  5. Step 5

    To serve: Rinse rice thoroughly and drain. Place in a saucepan with 1 cup cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook about 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside 10 minutes, still covered. Uncover and allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. Step 6

    While rice is cooking, lightly toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet. Fold sesame seeds and cucumber into cooked rice. Season to taste with salt.
  7. Step 7

    Place the rice in a mound on a serving dish or divide among 4 individual plates. Slice mackerel in half lengthwise, then cut each section into 8 pieces and arrange against the rice. Serve.