Mackerel is one of my all-time favourite fish: when cooked, its meaty texture and glass-like, crisp skin makes for sublime eating, plus it works so well with big, bold flavours; it’s also cheap and one of the most nutritious of all fish, being rich in vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. As with all seafood, and especially in light of the recent MCS announcement that the north-east Atlantic mackerel fishery is no longer environmentally viable, always make sure yours comes from a sustainable source.
Miso mackerel with citrus mayo
Prep 10 min
Cook 15-20 min
6 mackerel fillets, pin-boned, if need be
1 small handful fresh coriander
1 punnet mustard cress
For the miso glaze
300ml white wine
60ml ketjap manis, or soy sauce
200g white miso paste
150g golden caster sugar
30g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
For the citrus mayonnaise
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
250ml rapeseed oil
Put all the ingredients for the miso glaze in a saucepan on a medium-high heat, cook for five to 10 minutes, until reduced to a consistency that coats the back of a spoon, then take off the heat and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the mayo. Put all the citrus juice in a pan and boil, stirring constantly, for three to five minutes, until reduced and syrupy. Measure out 20ml of the citrus reduction (save any excess to brush over a roast chicken once it’s out of the oven, or to use as squash), and leave to cool.
Put the egg, egg yolk and mustard in a blender, turn on to medium, then very slowly trickle in the oil and blitz to emulsify. Add the 20ml citrus reduction and season with salt to taste.
Brush the miso glaze over the skin side of each mackerel fillet, then cook skin side up under a very hot grill for a couple of minutes, until the skin looks blackened and the fish is cooked through.
Decorate six plates with some of the mayo – be as creative as you like – then top with a fillet, garnish with coriander and cress, and serve.
When peeling the ginger, use the edge of a teaspoon rather than a standard peeler, because you will get more ginger that way. Scrape the edge of the spoon against the root, working your way around it, until it is peeled.
Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
600g smoked mackerel fillets
Juice of 2 lemons
200g creme fraiche
200g cream cheese
30g creamed horseradish sauce
400g sourdough, cut into 6 thick slices
For the cucumber pickle
100ml rice-wine vinegar
75g caster sugar
½ tbsp salt
1 cucumber, quartered lengthways, deseeded and cut into 5mm-thin slices
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, cut into thin rounds
1 tbsp thinly shredded ginger
1 tbsp coriander leaves
Put the mackerel and lemon juice in a food processor, blend smooth, then fold in the creme fraiche, cream cheese and horseradish, and chill.
Next, make the pickle. Put the vinegar, 50ml water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heat gently, swirling the pan, until the salt and sugar dissolve. Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Mix the cucumber, onion, chilli, ginger and coriander in a bowl, then pour in the cold pickle liquid and leave to marinate for five minutes.
Toast the sourdough and put it on a platter. Spoon some mackerel rillettes alongside – at The Little Fish Market, we love a quenelle), followed by a mound of the pickle, and serve.
Mackerel with curried mussels and cumin carrots
Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
2kg live mussels, cleaned
6 mackerel fillets, pin boned, if need be
Salt and pepper
For the sauce
60ml olive oil
120g unsalted butter
4 shallots, peeled and very finely diced
1 celery stalk, trimmed and very finely diced
1 leek, trimmed and very finely diced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
30g curry paste
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 big pinch saffron strands (I would be inclined to add a lot more, but use only what you can afford)
15g white peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
120ml Noilly Prat, or other good white vermouth
375ml white wine – viognier or sauvignon blanc, ideally
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
90ml good fish stock
120ml double cream
30ml lemon juice
For the carrots
25g unsalted butter
20 chantenay carrots
2 pinches sea salt
50g caster sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
100ml white wine
Put the oil and half the butter in a pan on a gentle heat and cook until the butter melts. Add the shallots, sweat gently for three to five minutes, just to soften, then add the celery, leek, thyme and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, for two minutes more. Stir in the curry paste and cayenne, and cook gently, stirring, for another five minutes. Add the saffron, crushed peppercorns and Noilly Prat, then turn up the heat and reduce, stirring all the while, until reduced to the consistency of a syrup. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil, reduce by half, then stir in the garlic. Add the fish stock and bring slowly to a boil.
Meanwhile, get on with the carrots. Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Melt the butter in an ovenproof pan on a medium heat, then stir in the carrots, salt, sugar, cumin and wine, and transfer to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are cooked but still have a good crunch.
Wash the mussels thoroughly in cold water (discard any with cracked or open shells), then stir into the sauce pot, turn up the heat to maximum, cover and cook for about eight minutes, until they are all cooked and open (discard any that stay shut). Using a slotted spoon, lift the mussels out of the sauce, remove from their shells and distribute between six shallow soup bowls.
Cook the mackerel fillets skin side up under a very hot grill for a couple of minutes, until the skin is blackened and the fish is cooked through.
Strain the sauce into another saucepan, bring to a boil, then add the cream and reduce until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the lemon juice, whisk in the remaining butter a cube at a time, until smooth and emulsified, then season to taste.
Ladle the sauce over the mussels in the bowl, lay a mackerel fillet on top of each portion, and serve with the carrots in a bowl alongside.
Duncan Ray is chef/owner of The Little Fish Market in Hove, East Sussex
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