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baked mackerel with olives and capers

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Baked mackerel

Recently I had a long no-no-NO!-frying period while my new kitchen was not supplied with an extractor fan (or ‘extract fan’ according to one senior Building Inspector). A long story. It’s not that I thought I wouldn’t need it - au contraire, it was our big worry how in a vast open-plan kitchen/dining/living we were going to get rid of smells.

I did extensive research into extractors including contacting industrial makers until someone pointed out the noise and smell the restaurants emit outside. Fact - I’d not wish that upon my neighbours. I meticulously calculated the metres cubed of the prospective air to be extracted, had a trial run at friends’ and consulted various message boards including Mumsnet (well no, not that one). Finally I went to a showroom where a cupboard door was sucked up to the cooker hood and they promised the extraction was that strong with even twenty odd metres ducting. Sorted.

Or so I thought.

The extractor turned out to weigh 60 kilos and my ceilings are flimsy plasterboard suspended daintily among wooden beams.

So an emergency ordering ensued, deciding on a high street brand. It wasn’t in stock. A wait of several weeks during which I had to refrain from frying and generally cooking Smelly or Smoky Stuff.

Oven baked mackerel

I said it was a long story. To cut it short, my ‘extract fan’ is finally in place and it works surprisingly well. The mackerel recipe predates it, hence baked. It actually turned out to be such a fantastic thing that I might give up on my sticky pan-fried fillets and do this whenever I cook mackerel, it’s so good.

  • INGREDIENTS
  • one large mackerel per person, filleted and pin-boned, opened like a book
  • ½ a small jar of capers
  • 50g small pitted olives
  • sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 slices of pancetta per person
  • a little oil to brush the tray

METHOD

Drain the capers and dry them in a paper towel. For each mackerel you’ll need about 3 tsp of capers and 2 tsp of olives, both chopped finely together.

Fresh mackerel

Drizzle the sweet chilli sauce over the mackerel fillets and spread the caper-olive mixture over one half of each fish, then close with the other half on top. Wrap two pancetta rashers around each fillet and secure them with kitchen string tied around each fish. Chill for an hour or so.

Mackerel with stuffing

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place the mackerel on a baking tray brushed with oil and bake for 15 minutes.

Cut the string with small scissors and lift the fish gently onto plates trying to keep the skin intact. Serve with sharp green salad: cabbage or fennel.

Fiendishly...



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