A simple yet flavoursome fish

Mackerel is plentiful and best prepared with simple vegetables and herbs, says Dr Chris Duckham

We recently took a trip out on a boat, owned by Jean the district nurse, to the uninhabited island of Roan. On the way there we came across a small shoal of porpoises and were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the island’s resident peregrine falcon. On the way back we fished for mackerel and, within a short space of time, we landed nearly 30 of them, attracted with the greatest of ease by the simplest of lures dangled over the side of the boat.  

Mackerel may not be most peoples’ favourite fish, but it has the advantages of always being cheap, flavoursome and plentiful. This is a splendid fish to give the simplest of treatments such as grilling or pickling.  

Pickled mackerel with potato salad  

1  First make the pickling liquid by placing the water, vinegar, celery, shallot and ginger in a large pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat.  

2  Add the black peppercorns and the coriander seeds and allow to infuse. Add the mackerel fillets and leave to cool. Once cool, remove the mackerel fillets and reserve, straining the marinade into a clean pan.  

3 Dice the peeled potatoes into small cubes and cook in some boiling, lightly salted water for about 15 minutes until just cooked through. Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, slice into batons and reserve.   

4 Gently reheat the pickling liquid, then add the cucumber, potatoes and the herbs. Allow to infuse at room temperature for 30 minutes.  

5 To serve, remove the potatoes and cucumber from the marinade and place on each plate. Top with a bouquet of fresh garden leaves, then a fillet of mackerel and serve at once.  

Chris Duckham is a GP in Tongue and Armadale, Sutherland, and runs Restaurant Cote du Nord, Farr Bay Inn, Sutherland. www.farrbayinn.co.uk.Please email your comments or queries to GPlife@haynet.com  

Ingredients  

For four people as starter  

1.5 litres water  

One tablespoon white wine vinegar  

One stalk celery, coarsely chopped  

One small shallot, peeled and finely chopped  

10g fresh ginger  

One teaspoon black peppercorns  

One teaspoon coriander seeds  

Four fillets of mackerel, each about 130g  

250g potatoes, peeled  

One large cucumber  

Freshly chopped parsley and tarragon  

Fresh garden leaves, to serve  

And for the wine  

Elegusto recommends:  

This recipe needs light crisp wines to counteract the vinegar and the strong flavour of the mackerel.  

The Castle Label Riesling, Schloss Vollrads 2001 (£7.95)  

Delightful on the nose, with citrus, peachy and jasmine aromas.  

In the mouth it is zesty and racy from balancing acidity, with a tiny hint of sweetness from pure ripe fruit.  

LOIS Grüner Veltliner, Loimer 2003 (£7.25)  

Vibrant and fresh, with essences of apples and peaches, a racy zing of lemon-lime tartness, minerally and dry, with a long slightly peppery finish. A really unusual choice. 

For more details or to purchase these wines, please visit: www.elegusto.co.uk/gp  

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