Hugh’s campaign has been gathering pace across Europe with the potential of real changes to fishing policy on the horizon, if you haven’t already read it – have a look at this article in the guardian. While he’s been fighting hard, I’ve been doing my part in support of his campaign by smoking some delicious sustainable mackerel. Mackerel is readily available and very versatile and smoking it is lots of fun (if you like that kind of thing), incredibly satisfying and surprisingly easy. Once I’d smoked it, I had a couple of fillets in a salad with some beetroot and new potatoes and a nice horseradish dressing – I wrote a recipe for this in the most recent Jamie Magazine, you can find it in the Monthly Menu section – and with the rest I made some ‘pate’, see recipe below.
2 mackerel, filleted and pinboned.
For the marinade: 500ml water, 5 tbsps maple syrup, 2 tsps table salt and 2 bay leaves
For the smoking: 50g darjeeling tea leaves, 2tbsps light brown soft sugar, few sprigs of thyme, few sprigs rosemary
For the pate: 2 fillets smoked mackerel, 5tbsps philadelphia, squeeze lemon, one spring onion
First off, you need to marinade the fish which partially cures it so it lasts a bit longer and also packs in a bit of flavour. Combine the water with the rest of the ingredients and then add the four mackerel fillets. Leave for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, you need two roasting trays of as equal size as possible – or a wok – into which you can fit a wire rack. Line whichever you’re using with a triple layer of tin foil and scatter over the smoking ingredients, then top with the wire rack.
Place the fillets, skin down, on the rack and then invert the second roasting tray on top (or tightly cover the wok with tinfoil) – seal the edges where the two trays join tightly with foil so no smoke escapes.
It’s almost ineveitable a little smoke will get, so I recommend opening a window and turning the extractor fan on… Place the roasting tray over a medium flame and let the fish smoke for about 10 minutes over the heat and then turn the flame off and let sit for a further 15minutes.
For the pate, flake the mackerel into a bowl and mix in the cream cheese, lemon and spring onion. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt if it needs it. Eat on hot, buttery toast. Yum.