Mackerel Escabeche

Escabeche is Spanish in origin, and essentially it means giving the meat a light to medium pickling before service, but after it’s been cooked.

You will need:
2 mackerel fillets
1 shallot, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
Large handful of cauliflower florets
5 cloves
Large pinch of salt
6 black peppercorns
2 slivers of fresh ginger
200ml beetroot juice
200ml red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey (or sugar)
2 heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche
Salt and pepper to taste
Fronds from 1 fennel (you can also use fresh dill) – reserving 1 or 2 for decoration

Serves 2

Get the shallots into a saucepan, along with the cauliflower and carrots, flavoured with black peppercorns, ginger and cloves
Pour in the beetroot juice, followed by the red wine vinegar
Add salt and honey, then bring to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes, until the vegetables have softened
Place the mackerel fillets in a good-sized oven dish, and pour the contents of the pan on top
It’s worth making sure the vegetables are as submerged as they can be, then cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 24 hours
Preheat the oven to 220C and bake them on a bed of foil for 5 minutes or so
Once they’ve cooled, the blackened tops should crumble away from the stalk quite easily, and disintegrate into a powder
Remove any stalks that remain intact and crumble the rest between your fingers
With the creme fraiche, just add a little salt and pepper to taste
The last thing to do before service is to remove the fish and the vegetables from the pickling liquid using a slotted spoon and putting them on some kitchen paper to collect the excess
Use a plain plate, and arrange it quite simply
Put a generous dollop of the seasoned creme fraiche alongside it, and sprinkle the burnt fennel on top of it and on the surface of the plate
We finished it off with a few bits of fresh fennel.