Smoked Mackerel Garden Salad with Smoked Ham Cakes and Dill Crème Fraîche
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a starter or light lunch
The inspiration for this dish came from our first visit to Orford in Suffolk many years ago. Orford is a beautiful seaside village with two smokehouses. One particular smokehouse is situated in a little alleyway down a hill overlooking the sea, and you can’t really miss it because the inviting aroma of the smoke greets you as you walk through the village. Every day they smoke treacle and cider-cured ham knuckles and they are still warm when you buy them. The smell is wonderful and I fall for it every time. In fact, I can’t even wait to get back to the car before I must have a nibble of the warm smoked ham hock!
Ingredients & Method
For the smoked ham and rocket cakes
- 600g Desiree potatoes, roughly diced
- 200g treacle and cider-cured smoked ham hock, flaked
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 egg yolk
- 25g rocket leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the dill crème fraîche
- 200g crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
For the smoked mackerel garden salad
- 2 lemons, each cut into 3 thick slices
- 2 bunches of asparagus spears (200–250g per bunch), trimmed
- 200g fresh (or frozen) broad beans (shelled weight)
- 4 radishes, finely sliced
- a large handful of a selection of baby or mini/micro salad leaves
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large whole smoked mackerel or 2 smaller ones (350–400g total weight)
First, make the ham and rocket cakes. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 20–25 minutes or until soft. Drain well, then mash the potatoes using a potato ricer or potato masher. Put the mashed potatoes in a bowl, add the ham hock, spring onions, egg yolk, rocket and mustard and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and shape each one into a round patty or cake, about 3–4cm in diameter. Place on a plate or tray and chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook them (see Cook’s Note).
Make the dill crème fraîche. Place all the ingredients for the dill crème fraîche in a bowl and mix together, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in the fridge for about 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse and develop.
Meanwhile, make the smoked mackerel garden salad. First, caramelise the lemon slices. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat, add the lemon slices to the hot, dry pan and cook for 5–6 minutes or until golden and caramelised on both sides. Remove them to a plate.
Cook the asparagus spears in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 3–4 minutes or until just tender. Drain well, then refresh in iced water and drain again. Meanwhile, blanch the broad beans in a separate pan of boiling salted water for a couple of minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and refresh in iced water, then drain again. Pop the tender, bright green beans out of their outer grey skins by squeezing gently. Discard the outer grey skins.
Put the cold asparagus into a serving bowl with the cold broad beans, radishes and salad leaves and toss to mix. Drizzle over the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to mix. Set aside.
Remove and discard the bones, head and fins from the mackerel (leave the skin on) and then cut the mackerel fillets into 6 even-sized pieces. Set aside.
When you are ready to serve, cook the ham and rocket cakes. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and pan-fry the cakes over a medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side or until cooked and golden brown, turning occasionally.
To serve, place the hot ham and rocket cakes on serving plates, serving 2 per portion. Spoon the dill crème fraîche into small dipping pots and place next to the cakes. Divide the salad between the plates, then place a piece of smoked mackerel and a caramelised lemon slice alongside. Serve immediately.
The ham and rocket cakes can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the fridge. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.