125 gm (½ cup)fine sea salt2 kgmackerel fillets (about 8 fillets)60 ml (¼ cup)olive oil2small dried red chillies1garlic clove, thinly sliced1fresh bay leaf1small onion, thinly sliced310 ml (1¼ cups)white wine vinegar2 tbspmarjoram1 tspwhole black peppercorns½ tsp cumin seeds
Bring salt and 450ml water to the boil in a saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve salt, then cool to room temperature. Place mackerel in a non-reactive container, pour brine over, cover and refrigerate until chilled (30 minutes).
Drain mackerel (discard brine) and pat dry with absorbent paper. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add chilli, garlic and bay leaf, then cook mackerel in batches, turning once, until browned (2-3 minutes each side). Transfer to a non-reactive container and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Add onion to pan, stir occasionally until tender (7-8 minutes), add vinegar and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then stir in marjoram, peppercorns and cumin seeds.
Pour vinegar mixture over mackerel, cover and refrigerate to pickle (2 days). Mackerel escabeche will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.
This recipe is from the May 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Mackerel's oily flesh shines when it's pickled ñ the flesh remains moist and the flavour of the fish balances the vinegar. You can serve the flaked fish in a soft brioche roll with watercress, shredded apple and witlof and mustard mayonnaise. It also makes a great side dish: stir the fish through a creamy layered goat's cheese and potato bake or combine it with mint and flat-leaf parsley to make a salad. You'll need to begin this recipe two days ahead.