Recipe: Mark Hix’s Fish House Salad
PUBLISHED: 19:36 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 19:36 11 September 2020
Whip up a Dorset version of Salade Niçoise with spanking fresh mackerel caught from Lyme Bay
Growing up in West Bay it seemed a natural thing to fish. I had a couple school mates who would join me fishing for mackerel in the summer or prawning in the late autumn and winter. I loved the thrill of hooking your first fish, even if it was just a mackerel. We would fish with a super light trout rod, a small float and single baited hook, sitting on the pier wall. The tourists would be chucking their beach casters over our heads with six or eight feathers on, but our light fishing tackle was much more fun. It took no time at all to fill a carrier bag with fish.
I love taking my 8-year-old daughter Isla out on my boat. She wants to unhook every mackerel we catch and put them in the cool box. Last year, between us, we caught 100 mackerel on one trip, she proudly handed them over to Jez my head chef at The Oyster and Fish House in LYme Regis. Jez then prepared three different mackerel dishes for us including ceviche and sashimi which Isla loved. Speaking as both a dad and a chef, a catch and cook experience is a really brilliant way for kids to appreciate fresh fish and enjoy the different ways it can be prepared and eaten.
FISH HOUSE SALAD
This is my Dorset version of a Salade Niçoise. Mackerel is a distant relative of the tuna - mackerel, tuna, and bonito are all from the family Scombridae. With pressure on tuna stocks, this locally-caught fish may have to step in on a few classic tuna dishes. The way the mackerel is cooked in this recipe gives it similarities in flavour to the canned tuna that is generally used for a run of the mill Niçoise salad, I actually think it tastes better. Serves 4 – 6
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
½ tsp cumin seeds
a few sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp cider vinegar, plus a little more for dressing
About 150ml or enough rapeseed oil to cover the mackerel
4 medium or 8 small mackerel fillets
4 free range eggs, semi-soft boiled for 5 minutes then cooled under the cold tap
12 new potatoes, cooked in their skins then halved or quartered
200-250g ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
80-100g green beans, cooked
100-120g podded weight of broad beans, cooked, shell any large ones if you wish
2 little gems, cleaned and leaves washed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a couple tablespoons of the rapeseed oil in a saucepan and gently cook the shallots, garlic, chilli and all the herbs and spices for 2-3 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the rest of the rapeseed oil, cider vinegar and lemon, heat to a gentle simmer and season well with sea salt - set aside. Lightly season the mackerel fillets, heat a little rapeseed oil in a heavy or non-stick frying pan and fry the fillets on a high heat, skin side down first, for 2-3 minutes on each side. Drop the cooked mackerel fillets into the oil mix and leave to cool. Carefully peel the eggs and rinse under the cold tap. Remove the mackerel from the oil and strain the liquid through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl. Whisk this oil up with some more vinegar to taste for the dressing.To serve: toss the little gems with some of the dressing, with the broad and green beans, potatoes and tomatoes and season then arrange in bowls. Break the mackerel into chunks and arrange on the leaves then half or quarter the eggs and arrange on top. Spoon over more dressing and serve.