Chefs' Recipes

Fleet's cured mackerel with tomatoes and sourdough bread

Curing fish is easier than you think.

By Josh Lewis
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking plus curing
  • Serves 6 - 8
  • Print
"The contents of my live-bait tank have saved the day on the odd occasion when fishing for the big guys hasn't exactly gone to plan," says Josh Lewis, head chef at Fleet restaurant in Brunswick Heads. "This easy recipe can be made well in advance. You can add extra herbs and even a bit of chilli, but I tend to keep it simple". Begin this recipe a day ahead to cure the mackerel.


  • 16 (50gm each) slimy mackerel fillets, pin-boned
  • 125 gm sea salt
  • 500 ml (2 cups) white wine vinegar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 200 gm sourdough bread, coarsely torn
  • 1 kg (about 10) mixed heirloom tomatoes, 2 halved, remaining thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers in vinegar, rinsed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve


  • 1
    Lay mackerel skin-side down in a single layer in a shallow tray or baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover, and refrigerate to cure (8 hours or overnight). Pour white wine vinegar over the fish to cover and refrigerate again to pickle (4 hours). Spread garlic slices over the fish, pour 200ml olive oil over the top, cover, and refrigerate until required (up to a week).
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread bread on an oven tray and bake until lightly toasted (5-10 minutes). Cool.
  • 3
    Squeeze juice and seeds from halved tomatoes into a bowl, add apple cider vinegar and remaining olive oil, and whisk to combine. Season to taste.
  • 4
    Pile tomato slices, parsley, shallots, capers, bread and drained mackerel fillets onto a plate, dress with tomato dressing and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to serve.


Drink suggestion: 2018 Jilly Lone Ranger Chardonnay, New England. Drink suggestion by Astrid McCormack.