Seasonality

This is a dish that I first cooked about 7 months ago for my Dad’s birthday. I was essentially making it up as I went along but it was heavily by the summer season. Back home in Norfolk we’re lucky enough to have a big garden (expertly tended to by my parents) with a great vegetable plot, it’s a real treat to go back to whenever I go home. I went up and picked the peas and the shoots fresh from the garden to use, from ‘farm to plate’ in 15 minutes – screw you Bird’s Eye.

I don’t think anything can beat that, the joy of growing, cooking and eating great produce.

The fact that it is only being posted on here now is because a friend of mine had asked for a relatively complex recipe for an online student journal he runs and I gave him this one a while ago. However, the photos I sent alongside it didn’t really show the food in the best light. To compensate for this I took it upon myself to remake the dish and photograph it this morning.

Thank god that Sainsbury’s have a very different attitude to seasonality from me, otherwise getting stuff like pea shoots would have been a real ballache.

It’s a dish I really like and one which is surprisingly quick to make. It also gives the impression of being more complex than it actually is which is always a bonus.

I love wrapping the mackerel in bread, I saw Kenny Atkinson do it on Great British Menu a year or two ago. It is an elegant means to give a real crisp outside to the fish without overcooking the flesh. It does have the downside of hiding mackerel’s beautiful tiger stripe skin though.

The dish was cooked in a bit of a and if I were going to do this for a full dinner I’d certainly consider marinading the fish. I also want to add a sauce, but I wasn’t happy with what I’d got so far. I imagine it’s a dish I’ll come back to, reassemble and tweak next summer.

This is also the dish in a previous post that I plated and replated to experiment with different styles, below is the recipe.

……………

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Mackerel

–        Fresh mackerel, 2 fillets

–        White bread, 2 slices

–        English mustard, a pot

Pea Puree

–        Frozen peas, 250g

–        Cream/Stock, optional

–        Truffle oil, optional

Baby gem lettuce

–        Baby gem lettuce, 2

–        Chicken stock, 200ml

–        Shallots (diced), 1

Grilled courgette:

–        Courgette, 1

Garnish:

–        Pea shoots, 1 punnet

Mackerel:

  1. Using a pasta machine or a rolling pin roll the bread as thinly as possible, set this aside.
  2. Make sure there are no bones in the mackerel. A common problem is that your fishmonger has been a cretin and hasn’t remove the central line of bones. It takes far too long to do this yourself to be honest so I cheat and cut down the line of them on either side and just remove them.
  3. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  4. Using a pastry brush or just a spoon and a (clean) finger coat one side of the bread in English mustard.
  5. Place the mackerel in the middle of the bread and wrap it around the fillet, don’t use all the bread if you don’t need to, just enough to make sure it is covered in just one layer of the bread.
  6. Wrap tightly in clingfilm and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pea Puree:

  1. Cook peas.
  2. Blitz with chicken stock until smooth.
  3. Pass through a sieve.

Baby gem lettuce:

  1. Sweat the shallots on a low heat until translucent.
  2. Add the chicken stock
  3. Cut the baby gem lettuce in half and add to the stock, cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the pan, you can keep these in the fridge and just pop the back in the braising liquid before serving to heat them up again if you are doing this in advance.

Courgette:

  1. Cut the courgette into rectangles about 5x2cm.
  2.  Drizzle with oil and season then put it under the grill at a medium temperature for about 2 minutes before turning it for another 2 minutes.
  3. Reserve.

To serve:

  1. Unwrap the mackerel
  2. Heat a pan with some vegetable oil and butter in to a high temperature.
  3. Warm the baby gems and the courgette in the braising liquid
  4. Warm the puree in a pan
  5. Place the mackerel in the hot pan, cook until the bread is golden brown (about a minute) then turn over and cook for a further minute or so.

Plate:

  1. Dot a little of the puree on the plate and place the courgette on top of it, this prevents it from sliding around.
  2. Spoon some of the puree on the plate.
  3. Place the mackerel fillet on top of the courgette
  4. Place the baby gem next to the mackerel
  5. Spoon round some of the braising liquid
  6. Garnish with pea shoots
  7. Eat
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