Open-Face Smoked-Mackerel Sandwiches

Turks call these sandwiches balik ekmek and make them with grilled fish—like mackerel—from the Bosphorus. For his version, Mehmet Gürs spreads grilled bread with a creamy roasted-garlic puree and tops it with smoked mackerel, arugula and slices of red onion and tomato. More Tasty Sandwiches

Open-Face Smoked-Mackerel Sandwiches
Photo: © Marie Hennechart
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs


  • 1 large head of garlic, halved crosswise

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • Nine 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian bread or ciabatta, halved lengthwise

  • Salt

  • Small arugula leaves, for garnish

  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 medium tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced

  • 3 smoked mackerel fillets (about 3/4 pound), skin removed and each fillet broken into 6 pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Set the garlic on a piece of foil, cut sides up. Brush with oil and wrap the garlic in the foil. Bake for 40 minutes, until softened; let cool slightly.

  2. Meanwhile, light a grill. Brush the bread slices on 1 side with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Grill over high heat until lightly charred, about 1 minute per side.

  3. Squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt.

  4. Spread the roasted-garlic puree on the grilled bread and arrange a few arugula leaves on top. Top with the mackerel and onion and tomato slices and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Mackerel follows the general rule for oily fish: Don't pair it with anything tannic (it will taste fishy) or oaky (ditto). This leaves bright, unoaked whites or crisp, dry rosés. Try a citrusy Vermentino from Italy or a rosé from California's Central Coast.

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