Mackerel is one of my favourite fishes. It’s just so tasty, sweet and succulent. I love it smoked, fried, salted and grilled Korean-style or even better the way my dad makes it – he stuffs a whole fish with diced tomato and onion and bakes it with plenty of lemon juice. The smell is mouth-watering.
Mackerel is also my favourite fish because it’s cheap, in season for 2months from (August to October) and, according to Greenpeace, line-caught mackerel from Devon, Cornwall and the south coast is one of the most sustainable fish. Get chatting to your fishmonger and look out for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo. This little fish is packed with nutrients and, being small, it is considered safe in terms of mercury content. As with the other species of “oily” fish, mackerel is a good source of vitamins A and D but its most prized for its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids.
Like any fish, mackerel should always be eaten fresh – it should smell slightly salty, just like the sea. This deliciously creamy and rich fish partners well with so many flavours including chilli and horseradish. For a smoky tang try roasting with cumin, lemon and garlic or grill with ginger and soy sauce.
Here I keep it simple, and just lightly sear some fillets on both sides in a hot pan, then serve with a crunchy slaw of fennel and cabbage ribbons, and a bright orange dressing of blended carrot and miso. The carrot adds texture, colour and bulk to our dressing whilst the miso adds a depth of flavour and – as well as being massively tasty – it’s good for you. Miso is a complete protein – it restores beneficial probiotics and is good for digestion and your immune system. It is important to choose a properly fermented miso in order to benefit from its health properties, so always look for a quality brand such as Clearspring.
8 small mackerel fillets or 4 large ones
1 fennel, shredded/mandolined
1 medium red cabbage, shredded/mandolined
1 medium cucumber, diced/ribboned/mandolined
1 large avocado – scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon
1 handful of fresh coriander
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Chives, chopped or snipped
Carrot miso dressing
1-2 carrots, grated or roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of good miso paste – we like Clearspring Sweet White Miso
1 inch piece of ginger, grated or roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of raw honey
The juice of one lemon or lime
1 pinch of sea salt and pepper
5 tablespoons of olive oil
Optional: some dried or fresh chilli, garlic and a dash of toasted sesame
– Combine all the dressing ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a blender with a few tablespoons of water. Process until nearly smooth and then slowly add the oil.
– Continue to process until smooth and then add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dressing has reached your desired consistency.
– Leave your dressing to chill if you have the time (this is easy to make in advance and will keep well in a sterile jar). A Vitamix will give you a smoother dressing.
– Shred or mandolin the red cabbage and fennel, chop your cucumber and coriander, scoop out the avocado flesh and combine everything in a large salad bowl.
– Spoon some of the carrot miso dressing over the salad.
– Gently toast your sesame seeds – they will be ready when they start to pop and jump out of the pan. Set to one side.
– Salt and pepper the mackerel.
– Using the same pan, heat a teaspoon of ghee/butter/coconut oil and fry the mackerel fillets skin-side-down on a high heat to get a crispy golden skin. After about 45 seconds, flip your mackerel over and cook the flesh side for a further 30 seconds – when the flesh goes from transparent to opaque it is ready.
– To plate up, pile some salad onto each plate and arrange the mackerel on top. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and chives and serve with a bowl of the carrot miso dressing.