CAN summer be complete without a trip to the seaside? Breeze,
sand, and chips and fresh fish are just some of its glories.
Mackerel are in season throughout the summer, and they surge in
late August for the sprats. Throughout Japan and Latin America, it
is common to serve fish raw or "cured" by salting or pickling - not
unlike our own smoking.
This Mackerel escabèche brings an exotic taste
to the familiar. Buy the fish very fresh (never risk it if it seems
at all stale), and ask to have it filleted.
4 fresh mackerel, filleted
3 onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and rushed
2 carrots, finely diced
1 celery stalk, sliced down
½ teaspoon each crushed
coriander seeds, black
peppercorns and dried chilli
generous pinch of saffron
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
100ml (3 fl. oz) white wine
200ml (6 fl. oz) white-wine
1 dessertspoon sugar
Dust the fillets with seasoned flour, heat some olive oil in a
large frying pan, and flash-fry them, skin first - no need to cook
completely; once done, place them flesh down in a wide earthenware
Splash a touch more oil into the pan, and softly fry two of the
onions, garlic, carrot, and celery, without browning them. Add the
spices, wine, and vinegar, and bubble up, then simmer for about
five minutes. Stir in the sugar, and check it is not too sharp: if
so, sweeten a little more.
Scatter the remaining (raw) onion over the fillets, and pour the
mixture over. Once it is cool, cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
Serve at room temperature with salad and plain boiled rice or new
Apparently, the good seed has been well fed and watered by God's
almighty hand this year, and we are to get bumper crops. Plums will
be in abundance for some weeks to come; so here's a Plum
sauce that is best bottled and used like
1kg (2 lb) plums
225g (½ lb) brown sugar
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon black peppercorns,
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 dried chillies, crumbled
500 ml (1 pt) cider vinegar
Wash and place the plums in a large saucepan, cover with water,
and bring them to boil; simmer for 20-30 minutes until broken down
and the stones come out. Set aside to cool. When you can, sift
through and pick out and discard the stones.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan, boil up, and then
allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes until you have a heavy, pulpy
sauce. Cook for longer if required; it will thicken more as it
cools. Ladle into sterilised bottles and jars, and bring out as a
condiment for any number of meals, but particularly a cooked
breakfast, duck breasts, or fried fish.