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Spud Sunday: Wholly Mackerel

Mackerel potato rolls

Irish 'sushi': presenting the mackerel potato roll

Sushi, and more particularly the notion of eating raw fish, is not something we’re especially used to in Ireland.

We like our fish cooked or, at the very least, cured or smoked. In fact, for an island nation, we are often guilty of underappreciating the quality and range of fish on our shorestep. Take mackerel – cheap, full of flavour, and with the extra brownie points that come from being sustainable. Popular with the Japanese either raw or salt-cured as a sushi fish, I thought I’d give mackerel and the sushi roll an Irish interpretation which involves (a) cooking the fish first (I’m Irish, remember) (b) replacing sushi rice with potatoes (well, obviously) (c) using the cooked mackerel skin as a wrapper instead of seaweed, though seaweed does feature, in the form of dillisk added to the potatoes.

I’m submitting this as part of this month’s 5 Star Makeover, hosted by Natasha of Five Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks. Following last month’s twisting and turning of the Bacon and Eggs theme, this month sees Sustainable Fish get the makeover treatment. Look out for a fishy feast on Natasha and Lazaro’s blogs this coming Friday.

Mackerel potato rolls

Stacking 'em high

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Mackerel Potato Rolls

Mackerel potato roll

The idea is simple, if a little fiddly to execute: fry the mackerel fillets, gently separate the cooked flesh from the skin, season (with, say, parsley and lemon or ginger and spring onions), then top the skin with dillisk mashed potatoes, some seasoned mackerel flesh and form into rolls. Leftover cooked mackerel can be served with salad alongside the rolls or mixed with additional potatoes. As with any use of mackerel, the fish should be as spankingly fresh as possible.

For the mash:

  • 600g potatoes (about 3 medium-sized), preferably a floury variety
  • salt
  • 3 tblsp butter, melted
  • 3 tblsp milk
  • A couple of pieces of dried dillisk, soaked briefly in cold water to soften and finely chopped (abt 2 tsp chopped dillisk)
  • vegetable oil for frying

For the fish:

  • 2 tblsp plain flour
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 mackerel, filleted, with skin left on (so 8 individual fillets, about 500-600g)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • a handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4-5 tblsp lemon juice or to taste

You’ll also need:

  • A potato ricer is useful, though not essential, for mashing the potatoes, plus you’ll need large frying pan, preferably non-stick.

The Mash Steps:

  • Wash your potatoes and peel them, keeping aside the peels. Cut the potatoes into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse them under cold water.
  • Bring about 1.25l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 1.5 tsp salt and the potato slices.
  • Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 10-15 minutes or until just fork-tender. While they’re simmering, you can shred the potato peels and fry them in a hot pan with a little oil and a pinch of salt until crispy, as described here.
  • When the potatoes are done, drain well and return them to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
  • Put the cooked and still warm potatoes through a potato ricer, if you have one, or mash with a potato masher or, if all else fails, a fork.
  • Pour in the melted butter and stir through the potatoes, followed by the milk. You should have a fairly stiff mash.
  • Add the chopped dillisk and check for seasoning – the dillisk will add some saltiness so you may not need additional salt.

The Fish Steps:

  • Mix the flour with a pinch of salt and some black pepper and use to lightly coat the mackerel fillets.
  • Place your frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot add a small splash of vegetable oil.
  • Working in batches, fry the mackerel fillets: place them skin side down first, fry for 2-3 minutes, turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes, until the flesh is no longer translucent. Drain on kitchen paper.
  • When the mackerel are cooked, carefully separate the cooked flesh from the skins, removing any stray bones as you do so.
  • Add the cooked mackerel to a bowl along with the chopped parsley, lemon juice, black pepper and salt to taste. Mash together well.
  • To assemble, lay out the mackerel skins, external side down. Spread about 2 tblsp of the dillisk mash along each skin and top with about 2 tblsp of cooked mackerel. Gently roll up each filled skin.
  • You’ll need a bit less than half of the mash and the cooked mackerel to fill the skins, so once you’re done, take the remaining mash and mackerel, mix together, check seasoning and serve alongside the mackerel rolls, garnished with the fried potato peels.

The Variations:

  • You can certainly vary what you add to the fish and/or the mash e.g try replacing the parsley with about 1 tsp grated root ginger and 6-8 finely chopped spring onions. You could also try using smoked mackerel instead of fried here.

The Results:

  • Serves 4 as a lunch, along with, say, a green salad.


  1. Clare - An American in Ireland

    These are SO up me and Mountaineering Man’s alley you have no idea. Growing up in Japan mackerel was a staple in my diet, and MM just loves him some good fishy fish. And they look really beautiful to boot. Going to be making this very soon.

  2. Daily Spud

    Hurrah! I thought you’d be interested in this one Clare, hope they go down well with MM.

  3. Madeleine Murray

    love this! using mackerel skin to roll is genius. bet it’s damn tasty too. more of this badly needed to get the ol Irish in to sushi in my opinion!

  4. Nora

    Wow, that is the best idea I have seen for a good long while. Such a good way to use some scrumptious mackerel – and make the most of yummy crispy skin!

  5. Daily Spud

    Madeleine: I’m all for whatever it takes to get the Irish into sushi (as, I can see, are you!)

    Nora: thanks – wasn’t sure the idea would work, but very pleased when it did!

  6. Clare

    Irish sushi! Love it!

  7. 5 Star Foodie

    What a creative idea, these Irish “sushi”! The potato rolls with the delicious mackerel inside sound terrific, and I love that you used the cooked mackerel skin as a wrapper! Excellent!

  8. Boulder Locavore

    You never cease to amaze. Who would have ever thought of this and with the potato especially they sound great! Love the idea of Irish Sushi.

  9. Daily Spud

    Clare: thanks, glad you like it!

    5 Star Foodie: I’m sure that this is only the beginning of a lot of fishy creativity this week, Natasha :)

    Boulder Locavore: I amaze myself at times, Toni – sometimes I just don’t know where it comes from!

  10. Michelle

    That is sure brilliance! I would devour those nibbles! Love the idea of skin as wrapper.

  11. Lazaro

    Lovely way to make sustainable fish shine. Creative addition to the makeover.


  12. Daily Spud

    Michelle: I do my best :)

    Lazaro: thanks so much, very much looking forward to seeing the other entries

  13. Sophie

    I also love mackerel in all of its glory!! You did a magnificent & splendid job here!! The dish looks like it comes from a 2 Michelin star restaurant!!

    I realy love your well flavoured dishes & that’s because I just gave you an AWARD!!! Yeah! Come over @ my latest post & pick it up! You can read why? over ther too! :) Happy Times!!

  14. Catherine

    This is my kind of “sushi” :) I get queasy at the prospect of raw fish, so this (with my potato obsession) looks perfect. I bet it’s tasty!

  15. Stef

    Wow, what a great idea. As has been said, certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a top restaurant. A little grating of horseradish might be nice as a variation too.

  16. Daily Spud

    Sophie: Aw shucks, thank you my friend! I’ll be over to your place straight away :)

    Catherine: Another person with a potato obsession? You’ve come to the right place :D It is indeed tasty and a great way to have something sushi-like if you’re not a raw fish fan.

    Stef: Absolutely, horseradish is definitely something I would add in here (and when the horseradish I have growing in a pot gets a bit bigger, that’s exactly what I’ll do!)

  17. Jenni

    I’m not a huge fish person, but I love the idea of wrapping them w/mashies. This is def my kind of sushi, DS! :)

  18. Debi (Table Talk)

    Using the mackerel skin was indeed clever–how fun! I like to mash potatoes with wasabi and think they would work well here too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. deana@lostpastremembered

    Hello fellow 5 star member… great blog and introduction to dillisk. I noticed that seaweed cookbook and shrugged it off … obviously shouldn’t have. You have piqued my interest with your lovely dish. Mackerel is beautiful, inexpensive, sustainable and so flavorful… I can imagine this would be absolutely delicious… great to read your blog, I do love Ireland!

  20. Jennifer- Adventuresome Kitchen

    Loving the Irish Sushi!!! What a brilliant idea! I especially love the mackerel skin for the wrapping. I’ve never had mackerel, nor have I seen it available here in the middle of the country, but if I see it I will certainly give this a try- absolutely magnificent!

  21. Kelly

    I love what you came up with. It’s fun to see how we can all get the same challenge, and yet, we take it in different directions. I especially enjoy your perspective on how fish is used in Ireland. It’s always very interesting to me to see how different cultures shape how a particular ingredient is used.

  22. Jenn @LeftoverQueen

    This is genius! I love mackerel and I love your spin on sushi! These look incredible!

  23. Daily Spud

    Jenni: everything is better when wrapped in mashies :D

    Debi: I love wasabi mash and that would be an excellent idea here, especially with some ginger added to the mackerel too

    Deana: greetings from Ireland :) – seaweeds of all kinds are definitely interesting ingredients to work with – I’m really only discovering them myself of late

    Jennifer: Why thank you! I can imagine that mackerel might be somewhat of a rarity in the middle of the US but I hope you get a chance to try it sometime – definitely a very flavoursome fish.

    Kelly: thanks, I’ll be doing the rounds of the other entries later, so I’m looking forward to seeing the variety and creativity on show

    Jenn: aw thank you, so glad you liked!

  24. Lori Lynn

    Oh my goodness you definitely get the award for most creative! I bet they tasted great! Excellent addition to the cooking club…

  25. Angela@spinachtiger

    This is a beautiful entry and I love how you do your recipes. Very clean.

  26. Tangled Noodle

    Irish Sushi? Brilliant! It’s truly fantastic conceptually and visually – I only wish I could taste it, too! There’s no telling how many of these I could put away. Fabulous, dear Spud!

  27. Jessica

    Your creativity amazes me! This is such a beautiful dish and you certainly made fish the star of your dish. I love your cultural spin on it as well! Ah I can’t get over your dish – you did a great job on March’s makeover!

  28. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    Love the creativity that went into your Irish sushi – using the skin as the roll added a wonderful salty, crispiness that I can practically taste! Very much like salmon skin roll – that’s a favorite among traditional sushi lovers like myself :) I’m excited about being a part of the 5-Star Makeover group going forward.

  29. Daily Spud

    Lori Lynn: thanks so much, they were pretty darn tasty, I’d have to admit!

    Angela: why thank you, that’s much appreciated :)

    Tangled Noodle: I will have to make you some whenever you next make it to these shores (and how I wish we had known each other when you last visited!)

    Jessica: I’m blushing now :) It was a wonderful makeover by everyone involved!

    Priscilla: so glad you liked the “sushi” and really great to hear that you’ll be joining the makeover group – looking forward to the next round already :)

  30. Trix

    This is so clever! I have a love-hate relationship with raw fish: it must be perfectly prepared and incredibly fresh, in which case I love it … otherwise. *ick* But no such worries here! The potatoes in place of rice is perfect.

  31. Daily Spud

    Hey Trix, glad you liked the “sushi” – and I know what you mean about raw fish, it has to be as fresh and as perfect as can be.

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