Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka)

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka)

We call it "Selyodka" because it reminds us of the Russian cured fish (mackerel or herring) - actually, it's more of a brine. I made this recipe as a sample last week. This homemade fish had such a good taste that we said from now on we weren't going to buy salted fish from the shop, made from questionable ingredients. Especially since the children appreciated it - both of them want to eat only fish when they see it on the table.

My husband is just as excited. He told me it's like butter, very soft and tender. Slightly salty, it goes very well with a baked potato next to it - and this, in its simplest form.

I was thinking of showing you the recipe now because the holidays are coming and I assure you it will be a very appreciated appetizer on the table - even served simply with lemon, onions and sprinkled with vinegar.

Or you can see how many beautiful things you can do with this kind of fish in the Salads section (Shuba and Layered Fish Salad) or Appetizers section (Simple Herring Canapes and Herring Canapes with Beet). Yes, it's so good with black radish and apple salad!

As a bonus, I also showed you how to fillet the mackerel, so that you don't have to pick the bones and the skin from the fish while you are sitting at the table, a method that is also valid for smoked mackerel.


Fresh mackerel
1 kg
or herring, I buy thawed mackerel from fresh fish market
5 tbsp
2 tbsp
1 l
Whole black pepper
10 pieces
you can also add a few allspice and coriander berries
Laurel leaves
2 pieces

Step by step

Step 1

Remove all of the entrails and wash the mackerel very well.

Cut the head off. If you find, I recommend buying trunks (I bought them from Mega Image last time and I saw they had them at Lidl, too). It's easier.

Make sure to buy the fish from a safe source and check the shelf life.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 1
Step 2

Bring water to the boil, mix with salt and sugar, then allow to cool completely.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 2
Step 3

Arrange the fish in a jar or a deep box with a lid.

Pour over the cold brine. Add the bay leaf and the peppercorns. Close tightly with a lid and refrigerate.

Notice that I cut one fish into pieces, to marinate faster, overnight.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 3
Step 4

The fish I left whole will be ready in 4-5 days and you can keep in the fridge for as long as you need, even for a month. But I assure you it'll be quickly gone :)

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 4
Step 5

Now let me show you how to make fillets from this fish.

I take it out of the brine and cut with the knife along the back.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 5
Step 6

Press with your finger along the length of the cut and detach the fillet from the bones.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 6
Step 7

That's how it comes out. The bones that are left can easily be removed with a knife.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 7
Step 8

Do the same with the second fillet. Detach by pressing with your fingers or with a knife.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 8
Step 9

Remove the remaining bones and place skin side up.

Take a knife with a sharper tip and cut a bit of skin from one of the ends. 

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 9
Step 10

Grasp with your fingers and pull slowly and carefully so as not to break the fillet meat.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 10
Step 11

And, there you go. Here we have two beautiful fillets, with no bones and no skin. This is a sign of respect for the guests at the table and for us. I just can't stand sitting at a festive meal and having to pick the bones from the fish. This is also for smoked mackerel. Remove the bones and the skin before arranging the fish on the serving plate.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 11
Step 12

You can also make a few fillets like this: arrange them in a bowl, add some onions and sprinkle with vinegar and oil.

In a few hours, the fish will be infused with the smells and so, even tastier.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 12
Step 13

If you want to serve it simply as an appetizer, just cut into thin slices.

Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 13
Step 14

Slide the knife blade under the sliced fillet and transfer to the plate.

It can be garnished with slices of lemon, onions, olives. Sprinkle with some vinegar, lemon juice and very little oil.


Pickled Mackerel or Herring (Selyodka) - Step 14
Quantity: 1 kg (3-4 fish)
Prep time: 60 min
Difficulty: easy
Ready in: 15 min
Publish date:
Collections: Fish dishes, Appetizers

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