Eat for Eight Bucks: Toasted Mackerel Sandwiches

Eat for Eight Bucks: Toasted Mackerel Sandwiches
  • Yield:2

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

Shopping List

1 tin mackerel: $1.95
2 ounces cheddar: $1.50
Lettuce: $2.00

Pantry items: Bread, butter, cream or substitute, pepper, salad dressing.

Total cost (for 2 portions): $5.45

"Mackerel the fish?" my mother gasped upon hearing that I had just made grilled cheese with mackerel. To aficionados of the tuna melt, this combination might not sound so strange, but even skeptics will be intrigued by the way nutritious fish joins browned bread and oozy cheese in Nigel Slater's toasted mackerel sandwich.

Well, this isn't exactly Slater's version—he uses smoked mackerel, but my pantry yielded only unsmoked fish packed in oil. I used crème fraîche instead of heavy cream; if you have neither, a spoonful of sour cream or even mayonnaise will probably do. Without Worcestershire sauce, I added a few shakes of fish sauce and hot pepper vinegar but couldn't taste either in the end. Next time I might stir in some mustard instead and griddle closed sandwiches instead of broiling them open-face, since I missed the butter-burnished exterior of a regular grilled cheese (and also since I burned the crusts so badly I had to cut them away).

I didn't toss a salad in time for the picture, but that's what should be served with these. Note for mothers trying to get small, oily fish into their small, picky kids: my 19-month-old who usually rejects tinned fish ate this greedily.

Toasted Mackerel Sandwiches

About the author: Robin Bellinger is a freelance editor and shameless cookie addict. She lives in San Francisco and blogs about what she feeds her husband and her daughter at home*economics.


  • 4 slices whole wheat toast, hot and generously buttered
  • 1 tin mackerel (about 4 ounces), drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup coarse grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • Pepper


  1. 1.

    Preheat the broiler with the rack just a few inches away from the flame. Arrange the toast pieces buttered-side-up on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the mackerel and cheese. Stir in enough cream to make a spreadable paste. Season with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and a big pinch of pepper. Spoon the mixture onto the buttered side of each piece of toast, pat it down evenly, and then broil until it begins to bubble and brown. Eat immediately.

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