“Mackerel is a lovely oily fish. It’s relatively inexpensive and is sustainable. Rhubarb is at its prime at this time of year and provides a natural acidity to contrast with the oiliness of the fish. English mustard is one of my favourites as it packs a little bit of punch, which complements the pickled acidity in the rhubarb. It’s a lovely seasonal dish,” says Michael Caines.


For the pickled rhubarb

  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30g white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste
  • 200g rhubarb, cut at an angle

For the rhubarb sauce

  • 20g butter
  • 150g rhubarb, finely and evenly sliced
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla paste
  • White wine vinegar, to taste

For the mackerel

  • 4 mackerel fillets, each weighing 100-120g
  • 1 tbsp English mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Mixed salad leaves, to serve
  • 1 lemon, juiced

For the vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 50g white wine vinegar
  • 200g extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place the sugar, white wine vinegar, lemon juice and vanilla in a pan with 35ml water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb and cover with a cartouche, reducing to a simmer. As soon as the rhubarb is barely cooked and still firm, remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pickling liquid – ideally for 12 hours, but it can be less if you’re short on time.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a low to medium heat. Add the rhubarb, sugar and vanilla paste and slowly cook until the rhubarb is completely soft, most of the moisture has evaporated from the pan and the mixture is thick. Blend in a high-powered blender and pass through a fine strainer. Add a dash of the rhubarb pickling liquor and white wine vinegar to taste, then season.
  3. Brush the flesh of the mackerel with English mustard using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, and season. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the fillets skin-side down, pressing down evenly for 30 seconds with a spatula to ensure an even colour. Leave to cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn the fish over and remove from the heat. It will finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan.
  4. Place the mustard in a bowl and whisk in the white wine vinegar and 50g water. Drizzle in the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and emulsify using a hand blender.
  5. To serve, dress the salad leaves with a little vinaigrette and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the mackerel. Place some of the rhubarb sauce on the plate and top with pickled rhubarb and a mackerel fillet. Garnish with salad leaves and some of the mustard vinaigrette.

Recipe courtesy of greatbritishchefs.com

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