Lockdown Mackerel Salad

Lockdown Mackerel Salad Image

When this lockdown started, almost 2 months ago, everyone rushed to the supermarkets and started panic-buying. There was virtually nothing left on the shelves, and sundry items like pasta, rice, flour and tinned-goods were completely sold out. It was like a weird version of Christmas eve, where instead of brussel sprouts and parsnips being sold out, it was tinned tomatoes and tinned fish. And it lasted for 2 weeks! Now the supermarkets have recovered from that crazy period of panic-buying, things are available on the shelves again, and although the situation is far from being normal, at least we can buy the ingredients we need.

I wanted to write some recipes for this lockdown, using ingredients that people are likely to have in the house and don't have to make a special trip to the shop for. I had the idea of making a 'what to eat in an apocalypse' series of posts, using only store-cupboard ingredients. The reality is, I think most people are managing to get to the shops at least once per week and nearly all the produce you want is available. If you're organised, you can still eat a meal every day made with a nice variety of fresh produce. Nevertheless, it's nice to find a theme and go with it.

So, you might be surprised to hear that I've been eating a lot of tinned mackerel recently. Not out of necessity, just because I discovered some fine quality tinned mackerel that is basically just a smoked mackerel fillet, cut in half, marinated in olive oil. The fish has been salted to cure it before smoking, too, which makes it a perfect product to be preserved in this way – not unlike marinated artichokes or sun-dried tomatoes. It would be just fine to eat on its own, which I do on occasion, but it also combines with some shredded red cabbage, torn basil and chopped lemon to make an excellent salad.


  • 2 fillets smoked mackerel, tinned or otherwise
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 150 g red cabbage, chopped or shredded
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 handfuls basil, torn
  • 1 handful baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. Place the red cabbage in a bowl with the onion, ground cumin and spinach. Peel the carrot and cut in half lengthways, then slice thinly at an angle. Cut two 3mm slices from the lemon and cut into dice. Add the lemon dice and the sliced carrot to the bowl. Juice the other half of the lemon into another bowl and set aside. Pull the smoked mackerel into flakey pieces and roughly tear the basil. Add these to the bowl along with a generous glug of olive oil and mix. Finally, season to taste with sea salt, cracked black pepper and lemon juice. Serve and eat immediately.