Pan-fried Mackerel with Smoked Mackerel Patties and Crushed Garden Pea Salad
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a starter or serves 2 as a main course
Mackerel, an exceptionally good-looking fish with its shiny blue and silver skin, is classed as a humble creature from the sea. Not only is it sustainable, this oily fish is also packed with nutrients, including vitamin B12, and is rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Mackerel is delicious and versatile and can be served hot or cold, smoked, raw or cooked. Due to its rich oily flesh, mackerel works best with strong, often acid flavours, such as saffron, lemon, lime, tomato, orange, fennel, chilli, ginger and wasabi. The skin of mackerel is thin and therefore crisps up easily and tastes equally delicious.
My philosophy about mackerel is to keep it simple – over-complicating a recipe incorporating mackerel is doing no one any favours! The combination of using fresh and smoked mackerel together adds a different dimension to this dish.
Ingredients & Method
For the smoked mackerel patties
- 100g cold mashed potatoes
- 50g skinless smoked mackerel fillet, flaked
- 1 teaspoon finely sliced spring onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as dill, tarragon, mint, chervil and chives)
- 1 teaspoon capers, drained and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the pan-fried mackerel salad
- 4 mackerel fillets (75–95g each), with skin on and pin bones removed
- 200g fresh or frozen (defrosted) peas (shelled weight)
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely shaved into 2–3mm-thick slices (using a mandolin)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 100g green beans, trimmed
- 20 Semi-dried Cherry Tomatoes, or use larger Semi-dried Tomatoes, cut into pieces, if you like
- 12 caper berries, halved
- a large handful of fresh pea shoots or any small fresh seasonal salad leaves of your choice
First, make the smoked mackerel patties. Put the mashed potatoes, smoked mackerel, spring onion, chopped herbs, capers, mustard and lemon zest in a bowl and mix together well. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape each one into a round patty or cake, about 2cm in diameter. Place on a plate or tray and chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
For the pan-fried mackerel salad, cut the mackerel fillets into diamond shapes – you want about 2 diamonds per portion, each diamond measuring about 5cm long. Score the skin using a sharp knife, but do not cut all the way through the flesh. Set aside until you’re ready to cook them.
Lightly crush the fresh peas in a bowl using a potato masher (or using a pestle and mortar), or, if using frozen peas, simply crush the defrosted peas using a fork. Add the rapeseed oil to the crushed peas, together with the tarragon, mint and one-third of the shaved fennel and then season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix well, then set aside to allow the flavours to develop while you finish the salad and cook the patties.
Blanch the green beans in a pan of boiling salted water for about 2 minutes or until just tender. Drain, refresh in iced water, then drain again. Place the green beans, semi-dried tomatoes, caper berries, pea shoots (reserving a few for garnish) and the rest of the fennel in a bowl, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice, then set aside until you are ready to serve.
When you are ready to serve, heat 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and fry the patties over a high heat for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Season the pieces of fresh mackerel fillets with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil in the same pan, place the pieces of mackerel fillets, skin-side down, in the pan and cook over a medium heat for about 2 minutes or until the skin is crisp, then flip the fish over and cook for a further 1 minute or until the flesh turns opaque. Remove from the heat.
To serve, divide the salad between 4 serving plates (if serving as a starter). Place 2 pan-fried patties on top of each portion of salad. Spoon the crushed peas on to the plates, then place 2 diamonds of pan-fried mackerel on top of each portion. Serve immediately, garnished with the reserved pea shoots.