Friday, 19 June 2015

Marvellous Mackerel

My nephew often fishes off the shores of Exmouth in Devon. He returns with a variety of fish, including mackerel, pollock, whiting and the occasional bass. He brought me some mackerel the other day and I searched the internet for a suitable recipe. I came across this one by William Drabble on the Great British Chefs site. Despite its worthy provenance, it's quite a simple recipe and it was absolutely delicious.

Baked Mackerel With Salsa and Fishy Chips 

serves four


Mackerel fillets
2 whole mackerel
1/2 lemon for juice
10ml of olive oil
Fishy crisps
4 filo pastry sheets
1 egg white
15g of butter, melted
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
Cucumber, tomato and avocado salsa
1/2 cucumber
4 tomatoes
1 avocado
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 lemon for juice


1. Preheat the oven to 175°C/gas mark 4
2. Lay a sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Brush lightly with butter and press another sheet of pastry on top. Repeat with the remaining 2 sheets so you have 1 sheet made up of 4 layers
3. Cut out 4 little fish shapes, brush with egg white and sprinkle over a little salt and pepper, or some sesame seeds if preferred. Bake for 10-12 minutes until crispy and golden
4. Skin and de-stone the avocado. Dice the flesh into 5mm cubes. Peel the cucumber and dice into 5mm cubes
5. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds. Remove and plunge into iced water. Peel the skins from the tomatoes, remove the seeds and dice the flesh into 5mm squares
6. Mix together the tomato, cucumber and avocado in a bowl. Drizzle over the oil and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Store in the fridge until ready to serve
7. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
8. To fillet the mackerel, remove the head and tail, then hold the fish in place and run the knife along the bone from head to tail
9. With a stroking motion and starting at the spine, remove the fillet by cutting towards the belly. Repeat until you have 4 separate fillets
10. Remove the skin from the mackerel fillets along with any bones
11. Cut out 8 sheets of baking paper, slightly bigger than the fillets. Rub the sheets with oil on one side. Lay the fillets on the oiled paper, then lay the remaining sheets on top, oil-side down
12. Still covered, lay the fish onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and squeeze a little lemon juice over the fillets
13. To serve, divide the salsa onto plates and top each mound with a fillet of mackerel. Lay the fishy crisps on top of the fish and serve immediately

* William Drabble runs the Michelin-starred Seven Park Place at St James's Hotel and William's Bar and Bistro. He uses local English ingredients where possible and his cooking has been described as gutsy and hearty.

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