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Mackerel, Olive, Cucumber and Yoghurt

Michael Psilakis of the celebrity-studded Anthos restaurant in New York puts the ancient flavours of Greece onto the modern table, reinventing old favourites for a glamorous new generation of Greek food lovers. His modern Greek cooking rethinks traditional recipes exploiting the earthy, robust, healthy Mediterranean flavours we all love so much.


  • Pickled Mackerel

  • 4 whole, very fresh mackerel

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 1 sprig thyme

  • zest of 1 lemon

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 475ml white wine vinegar

  • ½ cup kosher salt

  • ½ cup sugar

  • extra-virgin olive oil

  • Cucumber Plank

  • half an English cucumber, peeled

  • Thassos Olive Oil

  • 1 cup dried Thassos olives

  • ¼ cup fresh Thassos olives, pitted

  • 1 to 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • To Assemble

  • the Thassos olive oil

  • the pickled mackerel

  • extra-virgin olive oil

  • small pinch of dry Greek oregano

  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

  • the cucumber planks

  • 2 tsp Greek or sheep’s milk yoghurt

  • 2 Thassos olives, slivered

  • tiny, picked sprigs of dill


  • Pickled Mackerel:

  • 1.

    Remove the fillets from the mackerel and trim them to a nice, neat shape.

  • 2.

    Lightly toast the spices in a dry saucepan. Add the bay leaf, thyme, lemon zest and wine. Reduce the liquid by half. Stir in the vinegar, salt, and sugar.

  • 3.

    Place the mackerel in a container and cover with the cold pickling liquid. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain off the pickling solution, and hold the sardines in olive oil until serving.

  • Cucumber Plank:

  • 1.

    Cut four slices of cucumber 1/8” thick; trim to the same size as the mackerel.

  • Thassos Olive Oil:

  • 1.

    Place the dried olives in a blender and puree to a fine powder, scraping down the sides. Add the fresh olives bit by bit, pureeing after each addition, until the olive puree is a thick, loose paste. Slowly incorporate the olive oil, 1 tbsp at a time, until the puree is only just pourable.

  • To Assemble:

  • 1.

    In each vessel, make a small pool of the Thassos olive oil. Paint each mackerel with a little olive oil and season with a few grains of oregano, sea salt, and black pepper.

  • 2.

    Place a mackerel on each cucumber plank and place on top of the olive paste. Make a small dot of yoghurt and a dot of Thassos olive oil in the centre of each mackerel. Garnish with a sliver of Thassos olive and a tiny dill sprig.

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