Mackerel salad sandwiches recipe

Mackerel Salad Sandwiches - Steven Joyce
Mackerel Salad Sandwiches - Steven Joyce

On the banks of the Bosphorus river in Istanbul at lunchtime you find roadside carts selling chargrilled fresh mackerel salad sandwiches called ‘balik ekmek’. Mackerel has a wonderful, rich flavour, is micronutrient-dense and often comes ready to eat. For some reason it is constantly overlooked by people doing their weekly shops; this flavour-packed recipe will hopefully go some way towards changing this.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes




For the sandwiches

  • 2 fillets of vacuum-packed smoked mackerel (100g each)

  • 2 sections of French baguette, each about 15cm long

For the salad dressing

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • juice of ½ lemon

  • 1 tsp honey

  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)

  • ½ tsp chilli flakes

  • ½ tsp garlic granules

  • ½ tsp sumac (optional)

For the salad

  • 75g grated carrot

  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 ripe tomato, halved and thinly sliced

  • a handful of parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Start by heating a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Place the mackerel fillets (keep the skin on) in the pan and crisp them up by cooking for two minutes on each side. Mackerel is a very oily fish and as it cooks will release lots of oil into the pan, so no extra oil is needed.

  2. Carefully remove the mackerel and place on a plate. Slice your baguettes in half and place them face down in the non-stick pan. They will soak up the oily mackerel juices and crisp up in just a few minutes.

  3. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Pour this over the carrot, onion, tomato and parsley.

  4. To serve, place the salad on the base of the toasted baguette and top with a crispy mackerel fillet, followed by the lid of the baguette. Serve immediately or pack for lunch.

Mackerel is a fantastic source of omega-3 oils (which our gut bugs love), a source of vitamin B12, and has variable (but impressive) vitamin D content. Mackerel is also naturally abundant in selenium, an important chemical that supports healthy immunity and brain function.