Basil and lemon pickled mackerel

basil and lemon pickled mackerel

Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work out. Herring season is in full swing  and it is so plentiful I decided to pickle my own herring for Christmas. I pickled herring from scratch a while back and it worked out so well I wanted to make it again and share it with friends and family on Christmas eve.


I consulted some Swedish friends about the sauce and I was given a recipe for a basil and lemon sauce that sounded irresistible.


With everything in place I got my shopping bag and went to buy the herring. Only to discover that they hadn’t caught any. It seemed that the herring had decided to go the other way and was no where to be found. I wasn’t quite sure what to do but after having checked all the local fishmongers, I decided to get some mackerel.

The mackerels were about the same size as the herrings so not large and it is also an oily fish.

I used five small mackerels for this and it was perfect.


The first thing I did was to fillet and skin the mackerel. The big difference is that you can fillet and skin the herring but I had to pin bone the mackerel as there are bones running in the middle that are too big for eating. It was a little fiddly but all worth it in the end.


Filleted mackerel


You will need 24 hours for the basic pickling and you can find the recipe here.


Once this is done start with the sauce.


Basil and lemon sauce for pickled mackerel

preparation time 5 minutes 

cooking time 0 minutes but allow 24 hours for the flavors to set before serving

serves 15 as part of a buffet or about 8 as a starter


  • 1 1/2 dl or 3/4 cup half fat creme fraiche
  • 1 dl or 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp mustard, Dijon type
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of black pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Drain the mackerel and add the sauce. Place in a jar with a tight lid and let stand for at least 24 hours.


My friend was right, the sauce was delicious. It turned out that mackerel is just as delicious as herring when pickling and my friends sauce is simply delicious.


basil and lemon pickled mackerel


It turned out that Christmas is possible without herring and just as delicious with mackerel.











3 Responses to “Basil and lemon pickled mackerel”
  1. Very impressive Petra!! Happy New Year too 😄

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