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Mackerel with gooseberry sauce recipe

Mackerel with gooseberry sauce recipe

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  • Diet & lifestyle
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegetarian meals

Mackerel is a well-flavoured, highly nutritious fish and is good simply grilled and served with a fruity sauce – here gooseberry and fennel, flavoured with elderflower cordial. Ask the fishmonger to clean the fish and remove the heads if you wish.

17 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, about 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) in total
  • 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, about 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) in total
  • 40 g (1¼ oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 mackerel, about 170 g (6 oz) each, cleaned and trimmed
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 g (10½ oz) fresh or frozen gooseberries
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) bulb of fennel, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp concentrated elderflower cordial
  • salt and pepper

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:35min ›Ready in:1hr5min

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7). Peel the potatoes and sweet potatoes, then coarsely grate them into a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly.
  2. Put half the butter in a round 25 cm (10 in) ovenproof dish or tin. Heat in the oven for 1–2 minutes or until the butter starts to bubble, then remove. Turn the grated potatoes into the hot dish and press down firmly to make an even, compact cake. Dot with the remaining butter, then return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until dark golden brown and the centre feels soft when pierced with a skewer.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Season the fish with salt and pepper and make 4–5 slashes on each side. Cut a piece of foil to fit the grill pan and lay the fish on top. Mix the lemon juice with the oil and brush half over the fish. Grill for 4–5 minutes or until the flesh next to the bone will flake easily. Carefully turn the fish over, brush with the remaining lemon juice and oil mixture, and grill for a further 4–5 minutes.
  4. While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. Put the gooseberries, fennel, elderflower cordial and 75 ml (21/2 fl oz) water into a non-aluminium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until all the gooseberries have popped and feel tender. Taste the sauce – it should have a pleasant sour tang. If it tastes too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon juice; if too acidic, add a small splash more of elderflower cordial. Keep the sauce hot until ready to serve.
  5. When the fish and potatoes are cooked, transfer the fish to a large serving platter or warmed dinner plates. Pour the sauce into a sauce boat and serve with the fish and rosti.

Some more ideas

Many children prefer fish without bones. An easy solution is to ask the fishmonger to remove the head of the fish, then slit along the back, open out the fish and remove the bones and the guts, leaving a large flat piece of boneless fish. Grill as in the main recipe. * The boned mackerel can also be stuffed. To make an apple and fennel stuffing, combine 100 g (3½ oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs, 1 medium dessert apple, cored and finely chopped, 2 tbsp finely chopped bulb of fennel, 2 tbsp finely chopped celery, the grated zest of 1 lemon and a good pinch of fresh or dried thyme. Add a beaten egg and a little salt and pepper and stir until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the stuffing on one half of each fish, then fold over the other side of the fish to re-form the fish shape. Arrange the mackerel on the foil, brush with the lemon juice mixture and grill as in the main recipe.

Plus points

All oily fish must be eaten fresh as they spoil rapidly. The expression ‘holy mackerel’ comes from the days when a special licence was given to markets in Cornwall to sell the catch of the day on a Sunday. * Gooseberries are a good source of vitamin C. Because of the high acidity of the fruit, the vitamin C is preserved when they are cooked. * Columbus brought the sweet potato to Europe from his first voyage to the New World. Sweet potatoes have more vitamin E than any other vegetable and also provide good amounts of vitamin C and potium.

Each serving provides

A, B1, B6, B12, C, niacin, potium, selenium * E, copper, iron * B2, folate, calcium, zinc

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Gooseberry sauce to go with mackerel or gammon

The marriage of gooseberries with mackerel is a long and happy one. In France this berry is known as groseille à maquereau, which translates as ‘mackerel berries’, due to their use in a sauce for mackerel in old French cuisine. The first record of the two being mixed appears in a book of experiments, A New Digester or Engine For Softening Bones, written by Denis Papin. What was new here was not the pairing of mackerel with gooseberries, but rather his invention which developed into the pressure cooker.

This gooseberry sauce goes especially well with gammon and gin, having as it does the underlying juniper taste to unite the dish.

It also goes well with mackerel or other oily fish. You can also serve it with pork, gammon, duck and chicken.

Add a little extra honey and it will also go well on vanilla ice cream!


Stuffed mackerel recipe

On a recent trip to Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast, I witnessed the skipper of a small boat gutting mackerel in a most unusual manner. He called it &ldquofancy gutting&rdquo and I fancied a go. Sean had caught plenty, so he let me have a couple to try my hand at. Despite its name, the &ldquofancy&rdquo technique turned out to be as easy as it looked.

The beauty of it is that, with the fish&rsquos belly left intact, the cavity is perfect for stuffing, making this a superb option for a barbecue. Some might choose to dish it up with a gooseberry sauce, but the Guyrope Gourmet would urge you to keep things simple and to let the lemon and fresh herb stuffing do its magic.

Ingredients

  • 2 mackerel
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fl at leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 dash olive oil
  • 2 mackerel
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fl at leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 dash olive oil
  • 2 mackerel
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fl at leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 dash olive oil

Details

  • Cuisine: English
  • Recipe Type: Barbecue
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 10 mins
  • Cooking Time: 10 mins
  • Serves: 2

Step-by-step

  1. Using a sharp knife, make a small slit forward from the anus (which is on the underside of the fish before the tail).
  2. Prise out a small loop of intestine from the slit and sever the intestine.
  3. Make a cut around the fish's head at about a 45-degree angle.
  4. Twist and pull the head and guts away from the body.
  5. Rinse the fish under running water.
  6. Stuff the cavity of the fish with a wedge of lemon and a handful of fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and barbecue for 5 minutes on each side.

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Notes about this recipe

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Where’s the full recipe - why can I only see the ingredients?

At Eat Your Books we love great recipes – and the best come from chefs, authors and bloggers who have spent time developing and testing them.

We’ve helped you locate this recipe but for the full instructions you need to go to its original source.

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Method

For the chutney, heat the sugar in a large, heavy-based pan over a low heat, stirring well until it has melted and turned golden-brown (CAUTION: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully. Use a deep pan to avoid bubbling over.). Stir in the sultanas, thyme, ginger and shallot.

Add the cider vinegar and gooseberries to the pan, stir well and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gooseberries have softened and broken down. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then set aside to cool slightly.

For the mackerel, preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.

Blend the salmon and lemon juice to a fine paste in a food processor. With the motor still running, gradually add the cream in a thin stream until all of the cream has been incorporated into the mixture and the paste has thickened to a fluffy mousse. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

One by one, carefully stuff the cavities of the mackerel first with the tarragon leaves, then with the salmon mousse.

Roll the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 0.5cm/¼in. Cut the pastry into four rectangles - these should be long enough to wrap around the stuffed fish and half as wide as the fish (about 15cm x 18cm/6in x 7in).

Brush each pastry rectangle with a little of the beaten egg, then wrap one rectangle around the middle of each fish, pressing the ends of the pastry together underneath the fish to seal (use a little more beaten egg for this if necessary).

Place the wrapped, stuffed fish onto a baking tray. Wrap the tail of each fish in greased aluminium foil to stop them from burning. Sprinkle a little sea salt over each fish.

Bake the stuffed mackerel in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and golden-brown and the fish are cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for about five minutes.

To serve, cut each mackerel in half and serve with a dollop of gooseberry chutney.

Recipe Tips

To create the effect of fish scales score semi-circular marks on the pastry after the fish has been wrapped in it.


Gooseberry sauce

Some kind of gooseberry sauce for mackerel appears in virtually every English cookbook. The recipes look like page padding and sound incongruous but, in fact, are delicious with any oily fish. Try it with branzino, striped bass, sea bass, even speckled trout and the like. This version is based on Jane Grigson’s from English Food (London 19 __ ) and is laughably easy (except for the inevitable, laborious topping and tailing of the berries).

-½ lb (about a cup) of green gooseberries, topped and tailed
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-sugar to taste (you will need some)
-about ¼ teaspoon mace (optional)
-½ cup scalded heavy cream

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the gooseberries, stir in the sugar and mace if you want it, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
  2. Cook the sauce until the berries soften, then mash but do not puree them the finished sauce should have some texture.
  3. Stir in the cream, reheat the sauce and serve it with the fish.

Further notes:

- Mrs. Grigson repeats the recipe in the Fish Book and adds two others for gooseberry sauce her original version does not scald the cream as we do but the Fish Book variant instructs her reader to boil it.

- A second version essentially offers the reader the alternative of ground ginger for the mace (or a combination of the two) and substitutes béchamel for the cream and is a little trickier: Stir 3 Tablespoons of it into the sauce instead of the cream at Step 3 but ensure that the sauce does not subsequently boil. (See Fish Book 32-33)

- The third version from the Fish Book retains the bechamel and essentially substitutes chopped fennel leaves, nutmeg and pepper for the mace and cream.

- Lindsey Bareham likes gooseberry sauce too, and offers a minimalist recipe for it in The Fish Store (London 2006):

“Gooseberry sauce is lovely with grilled mackerel. Make it by simmering topped and tailed gooseberries with a little sugar until very soft and then cooking them with a scoop of clotted cream until thick and sauce-like.” (Fish Store 52-53)

- Bareham is not always consistent. Elsewhere she uses canned rather than fresh gooseberries without explanation for either preference. She also has an inexplicable predilection for ghastly stock cubes. (See, e.g., Fish Store 58-59, 144)

- The recipes in her newspaper columns can be disappointing as well one of them has resulted in a ‘Pizza Delivery’ to britishfoodinamerica. Then again Bareham shows good judgment much of the time. For example, Alton Brown has described cumin as his default spice, and Bareham likes it too:

“Mackerel is the perfect fish for strong seasoning and works wonderfully well when grilled with a liberal scattering of cumin. The smoky flavour of this haunting spice is a good foil to the silky but oily flesh of the mackerel.” (Fish Store 58)

- Our own Curmudgeonly Raconteur long has been a devotee of cumin and offers sound advice for its employment: ‘If you’re going to use it, you’ve got to use a lot of it.’ The spice is, paradoxically, both subtle and assertive. It can get lost in small amounts, and while its flagrant use will characterize the flavor of a dish, it seldom overwhelms the other ingredients.

- Biddy White Lennon cooks a Tablespoon of chopped fennel leaves with the other ingredients but omits mace and cream in her recipe for gooseberry sauce from Traditional Irish Cooking (Dublin 1990). The recipe likely is cribbed from Mrs. Grigson’s, which first appeared in print in 1973.

- Gooseberries can be difficult to find in the United States, but a similar if misnamed fruit, ‘Cape gooseberries,’ show up, even in supermarkets, during midsummer. Their flavor is neither as complex nor as bitter as true gooseberries, but they have a magnificent advantage you need neither to top nor tail them. They require less sugar than the real item.

- The Editor unfortunately is not Francophone, but she does read English, and according to Jane Grigson the French term for gooseberry is groseilles a maquereau. Despite the etymological association, however, Mrs. Grigson’s research disclosed but a single French recipe for mackerel with gooseberries, from Normandy. It is a lovely preparation.


Grilled Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce

1 mackerel
olive oil
lemon zest
lemon wedges
salt, pepper
3 cups gooseberries, topped and tailed
1/3 cup white wine
1 tbsp orange juice concentrate
1 tbsp cream
orange zest to taste

1. Prepare the mackerel. Clean fish and remove head and tail. Cut lengthwise stopping short of cutting the fish entirely in half so you can open the fish up hot dog bun style. Rub skin and flesh sides with olive oil. Sprinkle flesh side with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Set aside.

2. Make the gooseberry sauce. Place gooseberries in a saucepan with the wine. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until gooseberries are very soft. Remove from heat and smush the berries with the back of a spoon. Add orange juice concentrate, cream, and orange zest. Return to burner and heat over low heat until warm.

3. Grill the mackerel. Place fish skin side down on heated grill. Cook 5-10 minutes (this really depends on how hot your grill is just keep an eye on it. Then, if you are feeling adventurous you can try to flip the fish over to get some grill marks on the flesh side. This may result in a big mess so proceed with caution.

4. Transfer the fish to a serving platter, carefully remove whatever bones you can and serve with gooseberry sauce and lemon wedges.

Aren't they pretty These are the gooseberries I used. Mine were green but they also come in purple.


Ho there! I'm delighted to read a review of this recipe, as I had always avoided it on the basis of a flour thickened sauce detracting from the tart joy of gooseberries. I should be less ready to judge, and more willing to trust La Grigsonne. I offer in penance, and verbatim, the sauce I have always used in its stead, from the Fruit Book:”Stew about 200g gooseberries – no need to top and tail them – with a knob of butter and a tablespoon of sugar. Cover until the juices run, then remove the lid and raise the heat so that any wateriness evaporates rapidly. Sieve – processing or liquidizing makes them too smooth – and add to 150ml whipping cream whisked until very thick. Taste, add a little more sugar, but keep the flavour tart. Stir in a large teaspoonful of a good brand of creamed horseradish, to give a hint of earthiness. Fresh grated horseradish can be used, but it should come from a root recently dug from the ground. It may seem heretical, but I think that with this sort of sauce, a respectable commercial horseradish cream works better. Add a pinch or two of salt to liven the flavour.”That last sentence is vintage Grigson – any other writer would have included it 'above', but J.G. clips it on the side to make sure it is not forgotten, knowing that the detail is what makes a success of the thing.So pleasing as always to read your blog, hope things keep going well!J.M.

Thanks for the comment – and the recipe. I have the Fruit Book, but haven't noticed the sauce in that recipe included horseradish which sounds fantastic. I shall definitely have to try it and report it on the 'other blog'….


Grilled Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce

Inspired by Mrs Beeton’s gooseberry sauce for boiled mackerel, this is an unusual combination, but a good one: the sharpness of the gooseberries cuts through the richness of the fish. In the early summer, both mackerel and gooseberries appear in our markets, though you could easily go and catch a mackerel yourself just by trailing a line off a pier. Mackerel must be cooked as soon as possible because it deteriorates more quickly than any other fish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time 25: minutes

Put four plates into a low oven to warm. Line a baking tray large enough to hold all the fish in one layer with foil and set aside.

Put all of the ingredients except for the fish, olive oil and seasoning into a small saucepan over a low heat along with 4 tbsp water. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes, or until the berries are broken down and tender. Crush any whole berries with a fork and remove the sauce from the heat. Cover and keep warm until needed.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high and arrange the shelf about 15cm from the element. Dry the mackerel well with kitchen paper and make 3–4 diagonal slits in each side of the fish. Rub the skins lightly with the oil and season all over with salt and black pepper. Arrange the fish on the prepared tray and grill for 5 minutes, then turn the fish over and grill for a further 3–5 minutes.

The fish is ready when the flesh is firm to the touch and can be eased away from the bone with a fork, or when a temperature probe inserted into the fattest part reads 60°C or more. Serve the fish with the sauce on the side.


Grilled Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce

"Mackerel are available through the summer, but must be eaten as fresh as possible. I remember catching mackerel off the pier in Dorset's West Bay as a kid and taking them home to cook. They would curl up in the pan, due to rigor mortis because they were so fresh, but the taste was incredible - even to my inexperienced palate. That is one extreme and, unless you fish or know someone who does, you will never experience the taste. Two or three days is probably their maximum keeping time, until they begin to taste bitter.

"Mackerel are available through the summer, but must be eaten as fresh as possible. I remember catching mackerel off the pier in Dorset's West Bay as a kid and taking them home to cook. They would curl up in the pan, due to rigor mortis because they were so fresh, but the taste was incredible - even to my inexperienced palate. That is one extreme and, unless you fish or know someone who does, you will never experience the taste. Two or three days is probably their maximum keeping time, until they begin to taste bitter.

"Gooseberry sauce sounds like an odd thing to combine with the fish, but the two come into season at more or less the same time and the acidity of the gooseberries complements mackerel perfectly. Frozen gooseberries are available all year round and are very good in the sauce."

4 whole mackerel, each about 200g (7oz), cleaned and heads removed
Good knob of butter
250g (9oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed
2 tsp caster sugar
1/ 2 glass of white wine
150ml ( 1/ 4 pint) double cream
Oil, to brush
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Make 4 or 5 slashes diagonally across the mackerel with a sharp knife, scoring through the skin into the flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill to high.

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the gooseberries with the sugar, cover and cook over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gooseberries have broken down. Add the white wine, increase the heat and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the cream, boil then simmer until the sauce has reduced by half and thickened. You may need to add more sugar.

Meanwhile, brush the mackerel with a little oil and cook under the grill for about 6-8 minutes. Serve on warm plates with gooseberry sauce.


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