Cured mackerel with cucumber, dill and buttermilk

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Featuring mackerel cured in dill and juniper, a refreshing dill ice cream and hay ash-encrusted mackerel belly, this recipe from Phil Fanning is certainly a little different, but well worth a try if you are looking for a dish that will satisfy and impress in equal measure.

First published in 2015




Marinated mackerel

Dill ice cream

  • 60g of dill
  • 100g of crème fraîche
  • 250g of milk
  • 75g of whipping cream
  • 10g of glucose
  • 40g of sugar
  • 20g of egg yolk
  • 15g of trimoline
  • 4g of ice cream stabiliser
  • 3g of salt

Dill pickle

Dill oil

  • 2 bunches of dill
  • 100g of vegetable oil

Mackerel belly garnish

  • mackerel belly, 12 pieces
  • 250g of brown sugar
  • 250g of salt
  • 1 bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of hay
  • buttermilk

To serve


  • Food processor or blender
  • Deep fat fryer
  • Ice cream maker
  • Muslin cloth
  • Thermometer
  • Blowtorch


For the fish marinade, blitz all of the ingredients in a food processor. Cover the mackerel fillets in the marinade and leave to cure for 45-60 minutes
Wash the marinade off, pat dry and store in the fridge until required
To prepare the dill ice cream, whisk all of the ingredients together (except the dill), then bring the mix to approximately 90°C. Cook out, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes
  • 100g of crème fraîche
  • 250g of milk
  • 75g of whipping cream
  • 10g of glucose
  • 40g of sugar
  • 20g of egg yolk
  • 15g of trimoline
  • 4g of ice cream stabiliser
  • 3g of salt
Transfer immediately to a food processor, add the dill and blitz until the dill has broken down and the liquid is bright green. Pass the ice cream base through a fine sieve and chill over ice
Once cold, churn the ice cream and store in the freezer until ready to serve
For the dill pickle, blitz 2 of the cucumbers in a food processor for a few seconds, then squeeze all of the juice out through a fine sieve
Heat the vinegar and sugar in a small pan. Add the dill and the kombu, followed by the cucumber juice and crushed juniper berries. Remove from the heat and chill
Peel the remaining cucumber, cut into 2cm rings and stamp out the seeds with a pastry cutter. Leave the cucumber rings to soak in the pickle liquor for 1-2 hours
For the dill oil, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the dill for 3 minutes until tender but still bright green
Plunge the cooked dill into iced water to immediately halt the cooking process. Squeeze dry, then transfer to a liquidiser, add the oil and blitz for 3-4 minutes until smooth
  • 100g of vegetable oil
Pour the liquid into a sheet of double muslin and hang over a bowl in the fridge to allow the oil to drain through
To prepare the mackerel belly garnish, mix together the salt and sugar, then add enough chopped dill to achieve a nice green colour. Use the mix to coat the mackerel belly pieces, leave for 20 minutes, then scrape off the cure
Add the hay to a heatproof bowl and set it alight. Pass the charred hay through a sieve and set aside in a tray
  • 1 handful of hay
Dredge each mackerel belly piece through buttermilk, then through the hay ash to achieve a nice coating. Deep-fry the pieces until crispy, then set aside on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil
  • buttermilk
To serve, pour a little puddle of buttermilk in the bottom of each bowl. Drizzle with a generous amount of the dill oil, followed by a few pieces of the pickled cucumber
  • buttermilk
Blowtorch each portion of mackerel fillet until blackened slightly. Place the charred mackerel into each bowl, then add the mackerel belly pieces. Garnish with oyster leaf, flowers and pickled onion rings and finish with a spoonful of dill ice cream and a sprinkling of hay ash before serving
First published in 2015

Phil Fanning remains one of the brightest, most interesting chefs of the British food scene, creating beautiful, intricate plates of food at the magnificent Paris House in Woburn Abbey.

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