Smoked Herring, Fennel and Apple Salad

This summer salad brings together deliciously oily smoked herring, aniseed fennel, crisp and sharp apple and seasonal British lettuce. Like the coriander and lime pickled cucumber rice salad I made a few weeks ago, this dish is ludicrously simple but wonderfully light and punchy, which is ideal for the heat wave we’re currently experiencing. If you’re lucky enough to have an excellent supply of fresh fish, replace the smoked herring with some glorious barbecued mackerel or sardines. Enjoy in the sunshine.


Serves two

two small fillets of smoked herring
half a lettuce (I used a British Roundhead)
half a bulb of fennel
an apple (I used a Jazz)
lemon juice or gentle cider vinegar
olive oil


Warm the fish, either under a hot grill or in a warm pan for a couple of minutes. This will draw some of the oils out of the fish, leaving it glistening. You can also make the dressing in the saucepan you use, giving it a wonderful herring flavour. The herring can also be replaced with a couple of fillets of smoked mackerel

The salad itself is incredibly simple. The lettuce just needs thorough washing, a good shake to dry and then it can be torn into pieces. Try to hunt out some really good leaves as they are the foundation of the salad and deserve to be much more interesting than some limp iceberg. I cut the fennel into thin shards and kept back the delicate fronds to finish off the salad. It’s nice to have the apple in slightly chunkier slices to retain its crunch, so just remove the core and slice up.

Mix the salad ingredients, flaking the slightly cooled herring into large pieces and delicately adding in.

To finish it off, top with a basic dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and the fennel fronds. The acidity of the dressing, together with the sharpness of the apple cuts through the oiliness of the fish and the aniseed of the fennel works beautifully with both.

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