Mackerel with gooseberry sauce

Mackerel with gooseberry sauce


7 people made this

About this recipe: 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. A side dish of rosti potatoes and a green vegetable complete the meal. Ask the fishmonger to clean the fish and remove the heads if you wish.

Norma MacMillan

Serves: 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

Prep: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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