A fishy conundrum solved
A few weeks ago Mr B took me by surprise by bringing home some skinned mackerel fillets, contrary to the very clear instructions on the shopping list. I was doing a bit of a fancy dinner party and feared that, without its skin, the mackerel would disappear through the rack when I did the crowd-pleasing hot smoking trick. So I bunged them in the freezer and sent Mr B back to the fishmongers to try again. Hot smoked lapsang souchong mackerel (with horseradish cream and some thinly sliced beetroot) was a rip roaring success. Forgot to take a picture – oops.
However, the skinned fishes kept winking at me whenever I went anywhere near the freezer. Something had to be done – we can’t abide waste chez Battenburg. But every recipe I found for mackerel fillets indicated that the skin would be attached to the fish for cooking purposes. So I consulted the lovely people at Walter Purkis, the afore-mentioned fishmongers. Once they had got over their surprise that anyone should have made such a bizarre fish preparation request, they rose to the occasion and assured me that all was not lost. Dry the fish with some kitchen paper, coat with flour and pretend nothing untoward is going on was the advice. After much prevarication, I chose Rick Stein’s mackerel escabeche. Hadn’t actually heard of escabeche, but it seemed a good idea, as I had to cut the mackerel up into smallish pieces, thereby reducing the risk of collapsing fillets. A dusting of flour, fried in olive oil with a sauce of vinegar, spring onions, celery, chilli. All served at room temperature, with some crushed pink potatoes and a cucumber salad.
What a lovely way to serve mackerel – skinned or otherwise!!