This is a fantastically light and crisp dish for a more delicate weeknight dinner, especially ideal if you feel you may have overindulged over the weekend! Mackerel is a wonderful fish, it's delicious, cheap and packed full of healthy proteins and minerals.
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus 1-2 hours for the mackerel to marinade)
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Spices Used: Szechuan Peppercorns (Silk Road Chest).
4 Mackerel Fillets
For the pickle: 250 ml White wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, sliced
8 whole coriander sticks (not chopped or diced)
40 g caster sugar
1 tsp Szechuan Peppercorns
3 thin slices of lemon
Crack of black pepper, although a few whole black peppercorns will do better
For the soy dressing:
15 g light soy sauce
15 g water
1 lime wedge
1 inch finely sliced ginger
1/2 tsp dark brown sugar (e.g. Muscavado)
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
For the Salad:
100 g of rocket
10 Thinly sliced radishes
1/4 cucumber quartered and thinly sliced
Start off by making your pickle mix in a pot - Mix together the white wine vinegar, water, sliced red onion, whole coriander, sugar, Sichuan peppercorns, lemon and black pepper.
We then want to warm our pickle mix to get the flavours moving around and infusing. Warm it to around 60℃ if you have a temperature gauge. If not just keep an eye on the mixture and cook for a minute. You do not want any bubbling as this means the mixture is too hot! If you see bubbles remove from the heat and allow to cool. Bear in mind you are not trying to cook this mix, you are just trying to infuse the flavours. You also don't want to poach the fish in the pickling mix so make sure it's not too hot.
Put your mackerel fillets skin side down in a dish where they will be covered by the pickle mix. Add the mix once it has cooled and leave to marinate for 1-2 hours.
Heat your grill to 180℃. Take your mackerel fillets and gently score the skin side (this stops the fish curling in the heat). Put your mackerel on an oiled baking tray or some non stick paper and put under the grill. Grill for 4/5 minutes.
For your soy dressing add the soy sauce, water, fresh lime juice, ginger, chilli and sugar and mix well until combined
For the salad sliced the radish and cucumber, then mix with the rocket.
Serve the mackerel on a bed of the salad and drizzle over some of the dressing on to each fillet.
Tip: If you've ever been curious as to the difference between light and dark soy sauce then the mystery will be unravelled today. Light soy sauce is saltier, thinner, and more “refreshing” than dark soy sauce. Light soy sauce is typically used as a dipping sauce, such as sauce for sushi and fried tofu.
Dark soy sauce is sweeter, thicker, and full-bodied. It's typically used for adding colour to a dish rather than for flavour. Use this when cooking heavier cantonese dishes with deeper flavours such as a red meat based dish.
From this you can now understand why light is the best option for this particular dish - it saltiness and more refreshing nature make it a much better paring for such a delicate fish and salad!