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Good Fish Guide

Fish of the month recipe for Mackerel

Fillet of mackerel, shaved fennel salad and soy lime glaze

Fillet of mackerel, shaved fennel salad and soy lime glaze
Recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc.

Mackerel is one of the most plentiful species of fish in our seas; it is also inexpensive and delicious. It can be prepared in many ways – as sushi, pickled, smoked, barbecued, grilled, baked, pan-fried or steamed – but to appreciate this fish at its best it must be very fresh. This little dish has the virtue of being very simple, and it is packed with flavours.

Ingredients

For the mackerel
  
4 Mackerel fillets (skin on)
 For the glaze
1 tbsp Water 2 tbsp Soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
1 tbsp Palm sugar or dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp Finely chopped fresh root ginger
1/2 tsp Lime juice
For the fennel salad
150g Fennel bulb, trimmed
15g Rocket leaves
1/4 Lime juice
4 tsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch Sea salt
1 pinch Freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp Fennel seeds, soaked in warm water for 2 hours and toasted in a dry pan.

Serves 4

Preparation

20 mins, plus 2 hours soaking fennel seeds.
However to lend even more flavour to the fish, pickle it for 20 minutes before you grill it. You will need to prepare the pickling liquor a day in advance. - 

To prepare the pickling liquor, pour 250ml each white wine vinegar and water into a large saucepan and add 2 pinches of crushed pink peppercorns, a pinch of crushed toasted coriander seeds, a good pinch of sea salt, 40g caster sugar and 35g thinly sliced shallot or red onion. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and add 3–4 lemon slices and 10g coriander stalks. Leave to infuse at room temperature overnight. The next day, strain the pickling liquor and add the mackerel fillets. Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes, then remove the mackerel, pat dry and grill as below.

Cooking

The fennel

For the salad, remove the core from the fennel, then cut into wafer-thin slices, using a mandolin. Immerse in a bowl of iced water and set aside for 20 minutes, this will crisp and curl the fennel giving it great texture.

The glaze

In a small saucepan, combine the water, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and lime juice. Bring to the boil and let bubble for 10 seconds only, then remove from the heat.

The mackerel

Check the mackerel for pin bones and lightly score the skin at 2cm intervals . Preheat your grill to high. Place the mackerel fillets skin side up on a baking tray. Place under the hot grill for 4–5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the fish is just cooked.

To make the fennel salad

While the mackerel is under the grill, drain the fennel, pat dry in a tea towel and place in a large bowl with the rocket leaves, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and seasoning . Toss lightly together to combine and sprinkle with the toasted fennel seeds.

To serve

Divide the salad among individual plates and lay the grilled mackerel fillets on top. Spoon the glaze over and around the fish. Serve immediately.

 

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Raymond Blanc OBE

Raymond Blanc OBE

Raymond Blanc OBE is a gastronomic icon, acknowledged as one of the finest chefs in the world. Yet his philosophy is endearingly simple: My team and I aim to excel in what we do, but never to take ourselves too seriously. He is chef-patron of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, the two-starred Michelin hotel-restaurant in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton. His significant influence on British cuisine has brought scores of awards, as well as decades of critical praise and glowing admiration from fellow professionals and food lovers.

In July 2012 Raymond was appointed President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. In the same year he became Culinary Director of Eurostar, creating menus for Premier Business passengers. In June 2013 he received the Legion d'Honneur, the highest French decoration.

He has trained some 30 chefs who have gone on to win Michelin stars, though he is a self-taught chef. His burning passion for cooking - and eating - was inspired during his childhood in Besancon, France. In 1972 he came to Britain to work as a waiter at the Rose Revived in Oxfordshire. When the cook became ill, Raymond took over. From that moment he was a chef.

At the age of 28, Raymond opened his first restaurant, Les Quat'Saisons in Summertown, Oxford. Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons opened in 1984; it was, he says, the fulfilment of a personal vision. Raymond is the only chef in Britain to have retained two Michelin stars for the past 30 years and sustainability has been at the heart of his work.

Raymond is a best-selling author, and his BBC television series have included the Very Hungry Frenchman, Kitchen Secrets and his most recent series Kew on a Plate.

My connection with seafood

Throughout my career I have been on a self-set mission to encourage others to reconnect with their wonderful gastronomic heritage. A very early memory of mine is of catching fish for dinner,  in the stream near my childhood home, perhaps this was the start of my devotion to fish. In contrast to that idyllic experience, on arriving in Britain I wanted to taste first hand some British gastronomy and so I ordered fish fingers which arrived in about 40 seconds and was one of the worst things I have ever eaten!

Seafood is wonderfully varied and so important to me as a chef but over-exploitation and wasteful practices make me angry and I have been campaigning against overfishing for years. My mission is to fight against “intensive harvesting of the seas, the damage, the extraordinary mindless voracious appetite of fishing everything, so you have nets dragging, killing every single life from the sea floor".

I strongly believe that the restaurant industry must be at the forefront of change to ensure that what we buy comes from sustainable sources. Our industry is the largest consumer of fish in this country. 50% of the fish eaten in the UK is eaten in our restaurants. That, if nothing else, should remind us of our responsibility.

 

Why sustainability is important to me

Each aspect of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons is driven by ethical, environmental, seasonal and regional values, when ever possible.  I believe good nutrition and good food can only start from wholesome ingredients.  What may not have been achievable yesterday is often achievable today.  We work  in partnership with farmers, fishmongers and food producers exchanging knowledge.  The possibilities are enormous; at last we can find some good-quality produce on our doorstep.   All the produce that we use at Belmond Le Manoir is either organic, free-range or "artisanally" produced.

Belmond Le Manoir was among the first restaurants to insist on sustainably sourced fish. We aim for all our suppliers to be accountable and responsible. We do not utilise fish during their spawning season, we ensure we know the minimum size for all species we use and use fish caught by sustainable, ethical methods for each species (i.e. line caught, hand dived, etc). When sustainable fisheries are unavailable, we will use fish from the best quality, organically farmed fisheries.

I know our  hospitality industry can make a difference, contribute to the sustainability debate, and influence both the consumers and the government:

I am an Ambassador for Sustainable Fish Cities which persuaded the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to serve only sustainable fish. They honoured their promise.

Every piece of wild caught fish served at the glorious event was either Marine Conservation Society (MCS) green rated or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). This was the largest peace-time catering operation in the world. This was also the first games ever to display eco-labels, with Fairtrade and MSC logos, to over 5 million competitors and visitors who enjoyed the food.

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