Soused mackerel (or herring)

Serves 20

  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 2 bay-leaves
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 500ml (171⁄2fl oz) cider vinegar
  • 250g (9oz) soft brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 10 small mackerel/herring, filleted

This is a lovely traditional dish and very easy to do. The soused mackerel will keep in the liquor for a week or so in the fridge and are deliciously piquant.

Put all the ingredients except the fish in a pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely.

Taste the liquor for tartness (I like my mackerel pretty sharp) and immerse the fish fillets. Leave the mackerel to souse for 24 hours in the fridge, then eat them whenever you wish.

I like to serve them on a wooden board with piccalilli, and a watercress salad for added bite.

The really great thing about soused fish is that it is, in effect, preserved and will keep a while- the vinegar being the preservative.

Give it a go – this technique will work really well with lovely herrings as well.

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