A classic British fish dish with a Mexican-inspired twist
Thomasina Miers and Fiona Beckett
Fri 15 Jul 2011 12.40 BSTFirst published on Fri 15 Jul 2011 12.40 BST
Flash-grilled mackerel with gooseberry
Thomasina Miers’ flash-fried mackerel with gooseberry relish: A Mexican twist on a classic British combo. Photograph: Aliki & Ania
Mackerel is an amazing fish: inexpensive, extremely good for you and full of flavour. Thanks to their fast spawning, there are still plenty of them about, too, so you can eat them with impunity. Their rich flesh goes so well with this lovely piquant relish that was inspired by a Mexican salsa verde that uses tomatillos rather than gooseberries. Serves two.
2 very fresh mackerel, gutted but otherwise left whole
For the relish
Extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
6 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
250g gooseberries, cleaned
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 small heap chervil, finely chopped
1 small heap flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ glass crisp, dry white wine
Sea salt and pepper
Make three deep slashes in the flesh on each side of both fish, season with plenty of salt and pepper (in the cavity, too) and pop in the fridge until 15-20 minutes before you want to start cooking, so they come up to room temperature.
Meanwhile, turn your attention to the salsa. Put a saucepan over a medium heat and, once it’s hot, add a good three tablespoons of olive oil. Turn down the heat a little, and add the shallots. Sweat them gently, allowing them to soften without colouring for five minutes, then add the gooseberries, lemon zest and juice. Season, cover and cook for 10 minutes, until the gooseberries have started to soften. Add the sugar and vinegar, cook for five minutes more, then stir in the herbs. Turn off the heat and taste – you may need a touch more sugar to offset the vinegar. When it’s to your liking, set aside.
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Now for the fish. Put a large frying pan over a high heat and, when it is smoking hot, add a large knob of butter. When the butter has melted, lay the mackerel in the pan and fry them for five to seven minutes on one side, turn, and cook for a little less time on the second, depending on their size – the fish are cooked when a skewer can penetrate the flesh with no resistance and the flesh has turned from translucent to white.
Transfer the cooked fish to two warmed plates and pour the wine into the pan. Be careful because it will bubble up. Pour the reduced wine into the relish, and check the seasoning again.
Serve each fish drizzled with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and a few spoonfuls of the relish. These would be delicious with boiled new potatoes covered in butter, salt and pepper and perhaps a little spinach.
• Thomasina Miers is founder of the Wahaca chain of Mexican restaurants in London. Her latest book, Mexican Food Made Simple, is published by Hodder & Stoughton at £20. To order a copy for £15.99 (including UK mainland p&p), go to theguardian.com/bookshop, or call 0330 333 6846.
Fiona Beckett’s drink match
Picpoul is an ideal match with oily fish such as mackerel: try Domaine de Belle Mare Les Granges de Felines Piquepoul/ Sauvignon Vin de Pays de l’Herault (£6.50, Great Western Wine; 12.5% abv), a crisp, zesty white with a whoosh of lemon peel.