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Category: Oily Fish

Swedish Mackerel Lunch

This is so simple, and you can use any hot smoked fish. The original recipe called for mackerel and as we are always looking for more uses of mackerel I have repeated the recipe here. For the photo below I used hot smoked salmon, simply because I had some!

For each serving (and you can do this just for yourself) you will need:

  • A couple of fillets of the best hot-smoked mackerel
  • A slice of rye bread
  • Cream cheese
  • Capers
  • Red onion
  • Pinch of fresh chopped chives or parsley

This is easy. Spread your bread with a generous layer of cream cheese. Top with flaked fish, sprinkled with a few capers, chopped red onion and chives. With a slad on the side this makes a healthy lunch.

Spiced Mackerel and Potato Salad

The strong flavour and firm flesh of a fresh mackerel holds up well to spicy recipes. You can even give it the Tandoori treatment if you wish. This recipe uses a more subtle spice mix and plenty of lemony flavours. I have included the warm potato salad recipe but you could use couscous, rice or warm bread to go with it.

For four (and you can do this just for yourself by dividing the quantities) you will need:

  • 8 fillets of very fresh Solent mackerel
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed (or 1 teaspoon powder)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed (or 1 teaspoon powder)
  • Half teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Half teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 lemons: one for juice, the other to slice for serving

For the Warm Potato Salad you will need

  • 500g small new potatoes
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • Bunch of fresh chopped parsley

Mix together the spices and lemon juice. Slash the skin side of the mackerel fillets and rub the spice mix all over, both sides. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the potato salad. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes in salted water. Drain, and while still warm, mix with the parsley, lemon juice, zest and spring onions. That was easy.

Now grill the mackerel fillets, skin up for 5 minutes, turn over, and grill for 2 minutes more. That was even easier.

Serve with the potato salad. It is very lemony so you may not need the lemon slices but they make it look good.

Simple Scad

Or Suro in Italian. The UK has a major commercial scad fishery but we export all of them to people who know good fish, we never see them in the shops. As a result, most anglers catching them along with mackerel throw them right back. Good for the scad, bad for the taste experience they just missed. Scad taste like a mild version of a sardine, and unfortunately just as bony, but who said life would be easy. Simple is often best, here is a simple oven fried version.

This is healthier than frying but has that  nice fried texture. For four (or more, or less, depending on how much fish you have) you will need:

  • 8 small or 4 average sized scad
  • a lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 200 deg C. Gut your scad, no need to scale them. Put a slice of lemon in each gut cavity, and season with salt and pepper. Wipe with olive oil. Place on a metal dish and place in your hot oven for 20 minutes.

That is all.  Meanwhile you can make things to go with it, I roasted half a tomato, boiled some new potatoes and stir fried some courgette cut into McDonald-sized chip shapes.

If you want to experience a party in your mouth, try this fantastic sauce. Take the leaves from a large bunch of parsley, a small bunch of basil leaves, a few mint leaves, a tablespoon of capers, 3 anchovies or a blob of anchovy sauce, a gherkin, a tablespoon of wine vinegar and about four tablespoons of olive oil. Whiz it to a sauce with a hand blender. Add more olive oil to make it slightly runny but you don’t want it all oily. You can play around with the combination of herbs and seasonings, it should be herby and slightly sharp. Some people add a bit of Dijon mustard, I like to bulk it out with chives but that is because I have loads. This sauce keeps well in the fridge and wakens up any simple fish dish.

Mackerel Donburi

Mackerel are so plentiful in Summer we need a variety of recipes to ring the changes. Here is one from Japan, where they use a local variety of mackerel. It works well with ours. You can go all Japanesey and serve this as a traditional rice bowl meal. Whether you use Japanese ingredients or substitute with similar Chinese equivalents depends on how authentic you want it to be. Either will be good. If some of your party don’t like mackerel, you can make exactly the same recipe using sliced chicken breast (marinate them separately though!)

For four (and you can do this just for yourself by dividing the quantities) you will need:

  • 8 fillets of very fresh Solent mackerel
  • Marinade ingredients:
    • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce, Japanese or Chinese
    • 3 tablespoons mirin rice wine (or Chinese)
    • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil or standard sesame oil.
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

To serve you will need:

  • 350g sushi rice (or long grain)
  • 4 spring onions sliced
  • 200g soya beans (or peas or bread beans)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Mix together the marinade ingredients. Put the fillets in the marinade and leave to marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until they are light brown.

Cook the rice and beans/peas according to the packet instructions.

Now grill the mackerel fillets, skin up for 3 minutes, turn over, and grill for 3 minutes more. Mix the cooked rice with the peas/beans and divide among four bowls. Put the cooked fillets on the rice, and top with the spring onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

You can serve with a Japanese dipping sauce. wasabi or more soy sauce.

Mackerel Brunch

Smart eating places serve scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for breakfast or a light lunch, so I thought why not go along with that with a Solent version?  It works best with highly smoked and well seasoned mackerel, so it is woody flavoured and not too limp and fishy. This may be a bit much to take first thing in the morning but for a Sunday brunch it is very good.

For each serving (and you can do this just for yourself) you will need:

  • A couple of fillets of the best hot-smoked mackerel
  • Two fresh eggs
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of milk
  • Slice of really good bread
  • Pinch of fresh chopped chives or parsley

This is too easy. Toast your bread, meanwhile make scrambled eggs. (if you are new to this – melt butter in a pan. Beat eggs, a splash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the mix into the pan, and stir very gently with a flat spatula to move the set egg off the bottom of the pan to make room for the runny stuff. In a minute or two it will be looking scrambled. While it is still a bit runny, take it off the heat – it will carry on cooking by itself and you want it sloppy, not set rock hard).

Butter your toasted toast, top with the eggs, and pile flaked, boned, de-skinned mackerel on top. Sprinkle with herbs and voila, your brunch.

Mackerel “Blackened Fish”

This recipe is perfect for those that like a spicy dish but don’t necessarily like the taste of mackerel. Blackened Fish is a Cajun style of cooking where fish fillets are rolled in spices then fried briefly in a searingly hot frying pan. This makes the outside crispy and the inside stays succulent.

Takes 10 minutes, serves 2. You need:

  • 2 large mackerel or 4 small, filleted and dried on a paper towel
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • half teaspoon salt
    • half teaspoon garlic powder or fine granules
    • half teaspoon onion powder
    • half teaspoon white pepper
    • half teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
    • 50gm clarified butter or ghee

The fish will be fried in hot butter, but at a high temperature ordinary butter burns and goes black and nasty. Clarified butter can be made – you just melt butter and pour off the clear part to use, and throw away the white bits. Or you can buy it readymade in the form of ghee in the ethnic food section of a large supermarkets, or much cheaper in asian food shops. It keeps for ages in the fridge and can be used for any frying job, particularly when making curries.

It really is this simple. Heat the ghee in a frying pan until it smokes. Mix the spices and spread out on a plate. Coat the fillets in the the spice mix on both sides. Put them in the frying pan, then after a minute or so, turn over and fry the other side. If the side you turned up is brown and crispy looking, a minute was fine. If not, give it a bit longer. Turn over and repeat.

That’s all! Serve with whatever you like, I like new potatoes and french beans, but rice and sweet corn would be ethnic, or potato wedges. Drink plenty of cold beer with this and listen to some good Southern music, and wonder why you hadn’t eaten mackerel this way before.

(Adapted from Linda Doesner)

Gravad Max – River Cottage-Style

This is unashamedly borrowed from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s superb book The River Cottage Cookbook and is a great way of serving mackerel on a different way – cured, rather than cooked.

You will need some home-made equipment: a two litre (or larger) ice-cream carton or similar sized old Tupperware box. and a piece of clean wood cut so it fits snugly inside it. Drill a few small holes (5mm) in the bottom of the box for drainage.

For a batch of 10 fresh mackerel you will need:

  • 100gm caster sugar
  • 75gm salt, preferably coarse
  • 15gm ground black or white pepper
  • Handful of fresh dill, stalks remove, fronds chopped

Fillet your mackerel and remove as many bones as possible. Mix the cure ingredients above. Now sprinkle some of the cure in the bottom of the box. Place fillets skin side down in a single layer on the box, and sprinkle more cure over. Place the next layer of fillets skin side up, sprinkle more cure over. Then a layer skin side down, and repeat until your fillets and cure are used up. Put your wood on the top, put the box on a plastic tray or china plate (not metal) and put a weight on top of the wood. A couple of tins of beans will do. You might want to put the tins in a plastic bag so they don’t touch the cure and go nasty. Put the whole assembly in the fridge. Twice a day, take the liquid that has oozed onto the plate and pour it back over the fillets. After three days your Gravad Max is perfect (actually you can start eating after a day but three is better).

To eat, slice the now very firm and juicy fillets into thick slices at an angle, you can cunningly slice the flesh off the skin as you go. Serve these as a starter or part of a smorgasbord lunch with brown bread and a sauce like this one:

  • 4 teaspoons English mustard
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped dill

Mix the first three ingredients until the sugar has dissolved, mix in the creme fraiche, then the dill. Simple, and goes with it perfectly.

Cured Salmon

Cured of what? Cured of being boring. OK this is not something you will catch in the Solent but you could buy some from Tescos on the way home. This is from James Martin and so easy it almost isn’t a recipe! All you do is take a skinned fillet of salmon – whole, half or quarter side, and cure it for 12 hours. Then you can slice it and use like smoked salmon in salads, as a starter, an hors d’oeuve or whatever. Here is what you do.

Take your slab of salmon. Mix sugar and sea salt in equal quantities (half a cup of each will do half a side of salmon). Tear off a large sheet of cling film. Make a bed of cure mix using half the cure. Lay the salmon down on top and sprinkle booze on it – James uses good whisky but you could experiment. Half a cup for half a salmon side again. Cover with the rest of the cure and wrap it up in the cling film to make a parcel. Refrigerate for 12 hours, preferably on a deep plate as it will probably leak juices. Then rinse thoroughly in water and you will find it now looks cured – very firm and not at all raw. It will have shrunk too. Simply slice and enjoy!

We tried this with a salad of rocket, beetroot, gherkins, hard boiled eggs, radishes and home-made blinis with sour cream, pretending to be Russians. It was good!

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