Heritage tomatoes, cured sardines, rooftop herbs

Robin Gill's stunning heritage tomato salad recipe is served with home-cured sardines and home-smoked mackerel. If you are short on time, it's fine to buy good quality cured and smoked fish for the dish, but homemade will always taste best. This recipe was taken from Larder by Robin Gill, published by Absolute Press. Photography by Paul Winch-Furness.

First published in 2018
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Cured sardines

Smoked mackerel

Anchovy dressing

Tomato dashi


  • Food processor or blender
  • Apple wood chips
  • Deep roasting tray with steam insert
  • Oven-safe cling film


Make the cured sardines 5 days before serving this dish. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Tip into a blender or food processor and add the parsley, lemon zest and garlic cloves. Blend together to make a coarse paste. Add the salt and blend again
Spread some of the paste over the bottom of a clean container, then layer up the sardines and the remaining paste so that the fish are completely covered. Cover with an airtight lid and leave to cure in the fridge for 5 days
Remove the sardines from the paste. Rinse well and pat dry. Fillet the sardines. Pack them into a jar, cover with olive oil and seal. Store in the fridge. When you remove any the sardines from the jar, ensure that the rest remain covered with olive oil
  • olive oil, (for storage)
The smoked mackerel can be made up to 2 weeks in advance, or you can start making it the day before you plan on serving the dish. Make the cure by using the same method as the cured sardines
Gut the mackerel and remove the gills. Rinse well to remove any blood. Pack the cavities with some of the salt mixture, then completely cover the fish with the salt mixture on a tray. Leave in the fridge for 6 hours
Rinse away the salt mixture and pat the fish dry. Return to the clean dry tray and leave to dry out, uncovered, in the fridge overnight
You now need to cold-smoke the mackerel. For this, take a tray with a steam insert (such as a deep roasting tray that will hold a flat steaming rack) and spread the apple wood chips over the bottom of the tray. Warm it over a medium heat until the chips start to smoke
Meanwhile, place a tray of ice cubes on the steam insert and put the mackerel on a tray over the ice. Remove the tray of smoking wood chips from the heat and set the steam insert over it. Completely cover the top and sides tightly with oven-safe cling film so the smoke is sealed inside with the fish
  • ice cubes
Return the tray to a low heat and leave to smoke for about 1 hour – keep an eye on the fish to be sure it is smoking not cooking, and adjust the heat under the tray if necessary. Replace the ice and replenish the wood chips as required during the smoking
Fillet and pin-bone the fish. Char the skin side of the fillets with a blow torch, on a barbecue or under a hot grill. The cured mackerel fillets can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks
To make the anchovy dressing, place all the ingredients, except the oil, in a blender or food processor. Blend on a high speed, then gradually add the oil while blending. The dressing can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 7 days
To make the dashi, add the kombu to the water in a pan and bring to a very gentle simmer (do not boil). Simmer for 1 hour
  • 15g of kombu, (dried)
  • 500ml of water, boiled and cooled (or use filtered or still mineral water)
Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a jug. Add the nori, bonito flakes, soy sauce, salt, tomatoes, tomato vines, basil stalks and garlic. Allow to infuse for 40 minutes
Taste to check the seasoning – the dashi should have a strong savoury flavour – and adjust as required. Strain the dashi through the fine sieve
Take four of the cured sardines and finely chop them. Slice one fillet of cured mackerel (the remaining cured and smoked fish can be kept for use in other dishes)
Dress the tomatoes with the anchovy dressing and the cured sardines. Spoon into bowls and top with the mackerel slices. Pour the tomato dashi into small glass bottles
Place a small bunch of rocket, tarragon, bronze fennel, sorrel and basil in the top of each bottle. At the table, use scissors to snip the herbs over the tomatoes and pour over the dashi
First published in 2018
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Dublin-born Robin Gill has worked under revered chefs such as Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc, but his own string of restaurants – Sorella, Bermondsey Larder and Darby's – are relaxed, innovative and very exciting.

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