Saturday, March 10, 2012

Smoked Mackerel

I've been a bit slack on getting my blog posts done, there's a folder on my computer full of images and ideas ready to be written up and sent into the ether, in fact twenty four sub folders. Just this weekend, well Friday night, I've managed to add another three. I need to put on my blogger cap a little more often. Last night I started an endeavour of duck prosciutto spiced with prickly Szechuan pepper, a cure of pork cheek to be smoked and turned into bacon (a few weeks off, due to curing and hanging), and what my dinner will be tonight, confit of pork cheek cooked for 12 hours at 90°C. But I'm not writing about the porky goodness that always seems to grab my attention on this blog, no for that you'll have to wait. Today it's all about fish, Mackerel to be precise.

These are two easy, sub thirty minute meals, well sub 30 minutes if you own a pressure cooker, and if you don't, go buy one. Firstly congee, I've posted about it before, it's a simple and versatile base for any flavour you wish to add, and it's filling. You could do it traditionally if you wish, but that takes a lot of time, what you need is a pressure cooker, one cup of rice and six cups of water, cook on high pressure for 22 minutes and let the pressure drop naturally, then stir like crazy to get a nice porridge texture.

While the rice is doing it's thing and you're not standing at a stove having to stir and make sure it's not sticking etc, get your accompaniments ready. Smoked mackerel; carrot, garlic, and fennel, all sliced paper thin and pickled in mirin and cider vinegar; toasted sesame seeds; sliced chilli, scallions and herbs; sambal oelek; and to gild the lily, an egg yolk, it's going to be raw so go organic or at least free range.

Spoon out your beaten cooked rice into a bowl and make a small well in the centre for the yolk, garnish with the
accompaniments, drizzle a few drops of sesame oil over and finish with a splash of soy sauce.

If like me, you made the congee for one, chances are there is a bit of left over smoked mackerel in the fridge, but fear not, it wont go to waste, just whip up a quick niçoise inspired salad. It's a bit of a one pot wonder. Get a pot of salted water on to boil, drop in a few new potatoes, cook for about 8 minutes, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same water drop in a handful of green beans and cook for about 3 minutes, then pluck out and drop into ice water. Again in the recycled water drop in an egg and cook for 5 minutes, then transfer to the ice water. That's the cooking done.

To assemble this quick and tasty lunch, dinner, or large snack, grab a bunch of your favourite herbs, tear, chop or shred. Pit some olives, please don't use jarred pitted olives, they taste awful. Whip up a vinaigrette, I like 2 parts cider vinegar, 3 parts oil, spoon of dijon mustard, salt and a mashed anchovy. Slice the potatoes in half or thirds and then toss all of the ingredients together, sans the egg. Serve, topping each salad with the boiled egg, shelled and cut in half.