Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cured Mackerel

Wikipedia - that wonderful source of endless information - says 'Mackerel is an oily-fleshed sea fish found throughout the oceans of the world. The flesh is strong-flavoured and the fish is bony, which means it is not a fish for beginners.' Guess what I bought Saturday!

Where fish is concerned I would certainly class myself a beginner. But I have to say the results of my experiment with this incredibly beautiful looking fish were spectacular - as close to perfect as you can get when you start off with an idea rather than a destination in mind. I have in the past cured fillets of salmon with very good results. Extrapolating from that I wondered about doing the same thing to mackerel because even though I do not like them cooked at all I have enjoyed mackerel sashimi.

On Saturday I went to Furness Fish and selected a couple of shiny tiger-skinned beauties. I asked the fishmonger to fillet and skin them for me - he is much more skilled and his knives are a hell of a lot sharper than mine. It took him less than a minute. The good news is that is all the hard work done.

Cured Mackerel
2 very fresh mackerel, filleted and skinned, leaving about 350g fish
1 bunch coriander, chopped stems and all
1 1/2 tbspns salt
1 1/2 tbspns sugar
1 tbspn grated ginger
Chopped zest of a lemon

Mix everything together except the fish.

Rub your fingers lightly over the flesh side to find any remaining bones - there may well be a few, as Wikipedia points out. They come out very easily with tweezers pulling in the direction they lie in the flesh. (Tweezers don't cost very much and are surprisingly useful in the kitchen for fiddly things.)

Put the fish into a ceramic or glass dish on what was the skin side down. Cover with the herb/salt/sugar mix and pat it into the flesh. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 12-18 hours. A lot of liquid will be drawn out of the fish and will pool in the dish.

Take the fillets from the dish, scrape off the topping, rinse briefly and pat dry with kitchen paper. Slice very thinly and serve - I had them with Japanese soy to dip, pickled ginger and trout roe and tiny cake forks though they would have worked well piled onto Japanese seaweed crackers I think. Had none to test that particular theory.

Utterly delightful. A most perfect amuse bouche with salty, sweet, spice and fishy in every forkful. We had it before lunch on Sunday with the lovely Marie. I wanted something entertaining and very light to fill the first half hour or so after she arrived.
I find if you lay out the usual big bowl of nuts or strips of raw veg to slather with dips that though it is very welcoming it does tend to take the edge off hunger. As I was serving cauliflower and truffle soup followed by roasted lamb stuffed with spinach and tarragon and full roast veg and then apple and walnut cake with Montgomery cheddar I wanted to keep the hunger in place for later.

No comments: