Smoked Mackerel Tartare

by Susan Smith in ,

When you’re low on time and high on hunger, Smoked Mackerel Tartare is a tasty little number that you can whip up in less than half an hour. Isn’t that just music to your ears?

As a retiree - well, at least from lucrative employment - I still find myself racing against the clock to get things done. Quick and easy meals are increasingly becoming the order of the day and I’m guessing that it’s not just me that’s struggling to stay on top of my life situation. 

Oftentimes, this means that at the end of a busy day I’m frantically searching for last-minute inspiration from my extensive library of cookery books to find those recipes that either meet my criteria for Primal or that can be adjusted to suit. Sometimes I’ll stumble across an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” recipe that I can bring straight to the table without any fussy whatsoever. 

This one is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, as well as being virtually carb-free. Perfect for Primal, Paleo and ketogenic diets, all credit goes to Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Light & Easy’.

Call me greedy but I have adjusted the quantities slightly upwards. For a main meal, I think you need to allow 1 mackerel fillet and 1 egg per person. To help keep your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in balance (see Notes below), I also recommend that you make your own healthy 3-Minute Mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. C’mon peeps, 3 minutes still makes this recipe do-able within 30 minutes! 

For a quick and easy, satisfying lunch or supper, Smoked Mackerel Tartare is wonderful. Simply add crisp salad leaves and Paleo friendly, oven-baked ‘bruschetta’ to balance out its fishy virtues. As well as being a fat-for-fuel lunchbox solution to sustain Sarah and I at Mirror Imaging weddings, it also makes yummy, low-carb hand-me-rounds simply piled into hearts of Little Gem lettuce or chicory leaves to serve at picnics and parties.

Very moreish and made in minutes, I think you’ll find that this recipe is just too good to pass up.

Smoked Mackerel Tartare

Ingredients - for the smoked mackerel tartare

3 smoked mackerel fillets

3 hard-boiled organic eggs, coarsely chopped

4 organic cornichons (or 1 large gherkin), finely chopped

4 tbsp organic 3-Minute Mayonnaise

1 tbsp chopped organic dill or parsley, roughly chopped - plus a little extra to garnish

Squeeze of lemon juice

Freshly ground organic black pepper


Ingredients - to make 3-Minute Mayonnaise

UPDATE: I now use cold pressed Macadamia Oil in my 3 Minute Mayonnaise rather than Sunflower Oil. Get the recipe here.

2 organic eggs

2½ tbsp organic lemon juice

1 tsp organic Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt

a good pinch of organic white pepper

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia

150ml Clearspring Organic Sunflower Frying Oil

100ml organic cold-pressed light olive oil

Ingredients - to serve

Little Gem lettuce, Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread “bruschetta’, organic radishes.


Instructions - to make the mackerel tartare

Skin the mackerel and use your fingers to break the fish up into chunky, bite-sized pieces.

Put the mackerel into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and fold everything together very gently so you don’t break up the ingredients too much. 

Taste the tartare and add a little more black pepper and lemon juice if you think it needs it. N.B. The smoked mackerel usually has enough salt, so you shouldn’t need to add more.


Instructions - to make 3-Minute Mayo

Place all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container.

Using a hand-held stick blender, blend everything together until it emulsifies into a pale, creamy mayonnaise. Takes about 30 seconds!

Taste and add a little more lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if liked.

Transfer to a glass container and seal with an airtight lid. Use within 5 days

Instructions - to serve

Place Little Gem lettuce hearts or other crisp salad leaves on to a serving plate or on to individual plates. Intersperse the salad leaves with thinly sliced radishes (extra pretties and peppery crunch!), if using. Pile the mackerel tartare on top of the leaves. 

Sprinkle over the remaining parsley or dill and add another grinding of black pepper, if liked.

Serve with Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread ‘bruschetta’ (see Notes below)



UPDATE: I now use cold pressed Macadamia Oil in my 3 Minute Mayonnaise. Get the recipe here.

The best smoked mackerel I’ve found for flavour and texture is Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference smoked mackerel. For this recipe, paying a little extra, really does make a difference! 

To make Vegan Paleo Nut & Seed Bread ‘bruschetta’, slice the bread very thinly and brush both sides with olive oil. Put the slices of bread on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil and bake at 200℃ / 400 ℉ / Gas mark 6 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.

I don’t buy shop-bought mayonnaise anymore because it’s made with processed vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats, particularly pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. Dr Mercola comments :

“If you want to increase your overall health and energy level, and prevent health conditions like heart disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and a host of other diseases, one of the most important strategies at your disposal is to increase your intake of omega-3 fats and reduce your intake of processed omega-6 fats.”

  • Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils such as rapeseed, corn, sunflower, soybean and some nuts. 

  • Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish such as mackerel, kippers, herring, trout, sardines and wild salmon.

To balance our intake of omegas we should aim to eat more omega-3s and significantly less omega-6s. Unfortunately, most people eat way more omega-6s than they do omega-3s - 10 to 25 times more - so although Smoked Mackerel Tartare helps redress the balance in favour of eating more omega-3s, not so much if you bind it together with mayo that’s loaded with omega-6s! Swapping processed vegetable oils for naturally low in omega-6 organic oils, such as olive or avocado, makes sense. The trouble is I find both olive and avocado oils too overpowering (strong and bitter) to make good mayonnaise and I don’t like using processed ‘mild’ olive oils either. 

This is where I invite you to say hello to Clearspring's Organic Sunflower Frying Oil. It is one of the few cold pressed oils that uses special sunflower seeds that are high in monounsaturated oleic acid (the sort found in olive oil) and low in omega-6. Irrespective of its name, this sunflower oil combined with olive oil makes a delicious, authentic-tasting, mayonnaise that’s so good I could stand on farmer’s markets and sell it! 

N.B. You will need a hand-held stick-blender to successfully make 3-Minute Mayonnaise. 


Fat 34g Protein 35g Carbohydrate 2g- per serving of mackerel tartare

Fat 31g Protein 2g Carbohydrate 0g - per serving of 3-Minute Mayonnaise