In my defence, it’s actually quite hard to make pictures of food look good. I now understand why there are such things as food stylists – people who spray the cooked chicken with car paint and disgusting oil concoctions to make it look delicious. I worked with a still-life photographer once who sometimes took “food” jobs and he said that the amount of food-faffing before a shot was unbelievable. Most of the time the food wasn’t even edible after the stylists had worked their magic!
Anyway, to cut a long story short: sorry about the slightly less-than-appetising photo! This delicious mackerel salad looks a lot more scrumptious on film, so watch the video below for the full method. I’ve also printed the instructions below the video pane for those who are allergic to watching me or hearing my voice. (Ha!)
This is a brilliant summer recipe and one for which I cannot take any credit – it’s a dish that I prepared when I went to the Raymond Blanc Cookery School. (If you click that link it takes you to the post about my cookery school experience.) As mentioned in the video, I use frozen mackerel for convenience – it’s actually frozen whilst extremely fresh, so no harm done. It’s the only way you’re ever going to get me to remember to buy mackerel, at any rate, so it’s a good job that it is available as frozen fillets! These ones are from Waitrose (£4-ish for four fillets) and you can grill them from frozen, no defrosting needed.
Enjoy for lunch, light dinner, starter, snack, whatever. Not dessert, for obvious reasons. Unless you’re a cat…
Recipe: serves 1 for lunch or light LIGHT supper!
2 Mackerel Fillets (I use frozen from Waitrose!)
Baby Fennel Bulb, Trimmed, or a bit of a large Fennel
Lime Juice Olive Oil
Tiny bit of salt
1 Tbsp Water
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Palm Sugar
1/2 Tbsp Lime Juice
Tiny bit of chopped fresh ginger (optional if you hate ginger but it DOES make the recipe what it is!)
1) Put your mackerel fillets onto an oiled piece of foil on a baking tray and place under a hot grill. Set the timer for about 10-12 mins (a lot less if they are fresh, unfrozen fillets!) but remember you will have to keep checking them. Put them in with the skin facing UP towards the hot grill elements and then turn when the skin is crisped up.
2) Whilst all that grilling is happening, make your glaze. Put the soy and sugar into a little saucy-pan and put over a low heat until tje sugar starts to dissolve. Stirry-stirry with the spoon. Add ginger and lime and the tablespoon of water. Turn off heat once sugar has dissolved.
3) Put rocket leaves on the plate. (EASY.) Shave fennel – you want about a third of a baby fennel’s worth, or about enough to make a little heap on top of the rocket. Just look at the video and see how much I did, that’s easier than me explaining it!
4) Use a mandolin (not the instrument, the kitchen tool!) to shave the fennel or you can use a vegetable peeler. Watch your digits! Dress salad with little olive oil and lots of lime juice or other way around depending on how sharp you like your dressing! Tiny pinch of salt (the soy in the glaze is salty enough) and a grind of pepper.
5 Once mackerel is cooked (it will be, but check middle if you are using frozen) place on top of the leaves and arrange in a nice formation. Drizzle with the glaze really neatly if you have company or just plop it on if you’re alone. Save half the glaze in a little pot for when you next make the salad (so long as it’s within a couple of days) or halve the amount shown above.
6) Eat it.
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