Beetroot, Smoked Mackerel, Horseradish, Rye

Roast beetroot and smoked mackerel is a combination I really like, the saltiness of the fish tempers what can be a very sweet vegetable and it’s a great basis for a salad. For this dish though, I wanted to do something a bit different to that and really concentrate on the beetroot whilst still retaining the great contrast between warm and cold ingredients.

The idea of using the beets raw and sliced into very thin rounds comes from a post on Honest Food I’ve mentioned a few times before although I have made a change by marinating the discs overnight in a cider vinegar vinaigrette after seeing something similar on Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social blog. There was also an appeal unconnected to taste as I knew it would make for a really pretty presentation on the plate.

For the mackerel, the best smoked one I’ve found is from The Burren Smokehouse and given this recipe has its roots in the ludicrously trendy localism of Noma it makes sense to use as much Irish produce as possible although if I were really going to go to the appropriate extremes I would have been scouring hedgerows for wild horseradish. Unfortunately, there’s none near me but I did manage to incorporate one foraged element and that was a garnish of wood sorrel I found growing underneath the bay leaf tree we have in our back garden. I’ve no idea how it got there but it would have been a shame not to use it.

Another fantastic Irish ingredient I made use of was Llewellyn’s Balsamic Cider Vinegar which I found in the Dublin Food Coop but have  seen in Fallon & Byrne and a few other places in town too. It’s expensive but has a lovely flavour and it formed the basis for a glaze on the roasted beetroots so there would be some nice acidity to balance the beets’ sweetness.  To increase the tartness a bit more I also used some excellent unsweetened apple juice I bought in the market; given how shamefully hard it normally is to find homegrown apples I was very pleased with that discovery and will definitely be getting more just for drinking (and possibly mixing with Zubrowka!).

Beetroot, mackerel, horseradish, rye

Serves: 2

For the beetroot discs
2 medium sized beetroot
30ml grapeseed oil
15ml olive oil
10g honey
15ml cider vinegar
2.5g salt

For the horseradish cream
100g crème fraiche
15g horseradish, finely grated
5ml sherry vinegar
5g caster sugar

For the glazed beetroot
2 medium sized beetroot
Grapeseed oil
2 sprigs thyme
Smoked sea salt
50ml balsamic cider vinegar
50ml unsweetened apple juice
100ml veal stock
25g butter

For the rest
1 smoked mackerel fillet, cut into bite sized pieces
1 slice of rye bread
10g butter
Wood sorrel, to garnish


  1. For the beetroot discs, scrub the beetroot well to remove any dirt and using a mandolin, slice them as thinly as possible.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the vinegar and in a food processor add to the oil and honey.
  3. When emulsified, mix with the beetroot in a Ziploc bag and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
  4. For the horseradish cream, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar and mix with crème fraiche and horseradish. Leave to stand in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  5. For the glazed beetroot, preheat the oven to 190C.
  6. Coat the beetroot in the oil and sprinkle with the smoked salt.
  7. Wrap each beetroot in tin foil with a sprig of thyme and roast for 60-80 minutes.
  8. When done remove from the oven and leave to cool a bit before rubbing the skin off (you may want to wear gloves as it will stain you hands).
  9. In a saucepan, add the apple balsamic vinegar, apple juice, veal stock and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
  10. Reduce by half and then lower the heat before stirring in the butter.
  11. Add the beetroot to the pan and simmer slowly, rolling the beetroot around the pan or basting with a spoon to develop a rich glaze (if the glaze gets too hot the butter might split).
  12. Cut the crusts off the rye bread and whizz in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  13. Over a medium heat melt the butter and when the foaming has stopped add the breadcrumbs.
  14. Fry for around 3-5 minutes until crispy.
  15. Grill the mackerel pieces skin side up for 2-3 minutes to slightly crisp up.
  16. To plate, arrange the beetroot slices in a wide circle in the middle of the plate and dot the horseradish cream on the slices at even spaces; cut the bottom off the glazed beetroot so it will stand upright and place in the middle of the circle; place the mackerel pieces in a circle around the beetroot and top with a little of the glaze; sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and garnish with the sorrel.

Leave a Reply