Chef Joey Gann shares his recipe for Soused and Scorched Mackerel on toast with seaweed butter, raw radish and chilli gel

This dish utilises contrasting and complimentary elements at every turn – spicy and cooling; acerbic piquancy; salty, sweet, bitter and a little rich. There is soft against crunch and it’s fresh whilst also being smoky. Perfect.

A snack or light starter, this recipe serves two, with treats to spare.

The seaweed butter needs to set in the fridge, as does the chilli gel so make these first.

Seaweed butter

(makes more than enough, but is delicious emulsified into risottos, or simply on toast)

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • A sheet of dried kombu
  • A handful of small, dried shrimp (preferably a Korean brand)
  • Half a European shallot, diced very finely
  • Half a clove of garlic, bitter green shoot remove, minced
  • Zest of a lime and a squeeze of its juice
  • Half a medium sized, medium heat red chilli, very finely diced
  • A pinch of coarse sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper
  1. Break up the kombu by hand into manageable pieces. In a food processor, blitz it with the dried shrimp so it is very fine, but not a dust.
  2. Mix well with all of the other ingredients and season to taste
  3. Roll in cling film into a cylinder shape and leave in the fridge to set

Chilli gel

  • 1 dried Mexican chipotle chilli, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 100ml shellfish stock
  • 1g gellan gum
  • 0.1g xanthan gum
  1. Put the sweet red pepper under the grill or over an open flame and turn often until all sides are charred black, but have not gone over into silver.
  2. Put the charred pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film, allowing it to steam and the skin the loosen.
  3. After 15 minutes, take the pepper out and the skin should peel off easily. Do this under running water if the skin is being stubborn.
  4. Remove the seeds and roughly chop the peeled pepper. Also roughly chop the soaked chipotle chilli.
  5. Place both pepper and chilli in a pan with the shellfish stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cook through for 15 minutes.
  6. Blitz the mixture in a food processor. Pass through a sieve into a clean pan
  7. Mix the dry gums with a little salt and whisk into the pan of liquid. Bring to the boil (a temperature of 95°c is required), whisking constantly
  8. Pour into a bowl over iced water, the mixture will set
  9. Blitz again and pass into a squeezy bottle. Keep in the fridge until later.

Now, lightly pickle the fish.

Pickling liquor

(makes more than enough)

  • 100ml water
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml rice wine vinegar
  • 25ml mirin
  • 50g caster sugar
  • A star anise
  • A handful of cloves
  • A knob of ginger
  • Half an Asian shallot
  • 1 mackerel fillet, halved lengthways, removing the back bone
  1. Toast the dry aromats in a pan for roughly a minute, until they begin to release a fantastic fragrance.
  2. Transfer to a fresh pan with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Bring to the boil. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. While still warm, pour over the mackerel pieces, and leave to souse for 30 minutes. 

To serve

 2 thin slices of white bread, crusts removed and cut to the same size as your mackerel pieces

  1. Lightly fry the slices of bread in sesame oil
  2. Drain the toast on paper towel and spread on one side with seaweed butter
  3. Remove the mackerel from the pickling liquor and pat dry. With a blowtorch, lightly scorch the skin side of the fish, creating a few smoky bubbles for bursts of contrast.
  4. Place the toast on a plate, preferably with a contrasting colour to emphasise the colours of the dish. Lay the piece of scorched mackerel on the toast.
  5. Next to the fish on toast, add a small circle of chili gel.
  6. We garnish with some raw, thinly sliced radish for bitterness and freshness, and a little candied lemon for a sharp punch, but feel free to be creative.
  7. Enjoy


Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.