Tea – smoked Mackerel

This dish is appropriate for this time of the year, with spring just round the corner. It is satisfying, yet surprisingly healthy dish. every technique is transferrable and will work on a variety of other ingredients.

You will need:
250ml beetroot juice
4 gelatine leaves
Fresh horseradish
2 mackerel fillets
1 tablespoon black tea
100g sugar
4 baby cucumbers or normal 1 cucumber, sliced into 2cm chunks
6 baby fennel or 1 large, cut into wedges
Large handful watercress
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch chives
300-350ml rapeseed oil
200g black quinoa
400ml chicken stock
1 lemon
Knob of butter (optional)

Serves 2

To make the sauce:
Place the dill, chives and watercress into a blender along with a teaspoon of salt and juice from 1/2 a lemon.
Then add about 100 millilitres of rapeseed oil.
Start blending on a low speed and increase gradually.
Add the rest of your oil gradually whilst the motor is running.
Store it in a bowl or in a plastic squeezy bottle.

For the quinoa:
Wash before cooking.
Toast in a dry pan for 3-4 minutes until starting to jump in the pan.
Pour in the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until cooked, adding more liquid if necessary.
Toasting the quinoa is not essential, but adds more nutty flavour to the cooked seeds.

For the mackerel:
Take a wok and cover the inside thoroughly with baking foil.
Put the sugar and tea in, then place a steaming basket on top, with your fillet or fillets inside, skinside up.
Cover tightly with more foil.
Then place the wok on a medium heat and just leave it until you can smell burning sugar, just like caramel.
Give it 10 minutes and then turn the heat off, but leave in the pan for another 10 minutes or so, as it will continue gently to cook through before service.

For the beetroot jelly:
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes.
Pour the beetroot juice into a saucepan and grate as much horseradish into it as you think you can handle!
Add a large pinch of salt to the pan.
Warm through on a medium heat.
Remove the soaked gelatine from the water, and squeeze out any excess liquid and add to your jelly.
Stir until it has completely dissolved into the mixture.
Line a plate with clingfilm, and pour the jelly on top.
Chill in the fridge.

For the fennel:
Heat a large glug of oil in a pan, on a medium to high heat and add the fennel.
Leave them to gently sizzle in the pan for at least five minutes, turning occasionally.
Once they begin to colour, add one hundred to one-hundred-and-fifty millilitres of water, so that the fennel stalks are half submerged.
Bring to boil and leave it to bubble gently.
Add a knob of butter if using.
Season with freshly ground black pepper and simmer until just cooked.

For the cucumber:
Drizzle them generously with oil, and season with salt.
Heat a griddle pan to a high temperature, then spread the cucumbers in the pan, sliced side down.
Char lightly on both sides, keep to one side.

For service:
Cut the jelly into small squares or cubes.
Spoon some of the quinoa onto a plate and place the fennel and cucumber around it.
Arrange the beetroot jelly squares around.
Drizzle the plate with the green sauce.
Top it off with the mackerel fillet, skin side up.