There they were. These bright eyes staring at me from across the counter. I tried to avoid them. Sure I only went over to get haddock for last night’s dinner but then I saw them. Didn’t recognise them at all. What gave it away though was the name tag…mackerel. In case you haven’t realised, those bright eyes were those of a dead fish! Bright eyed and…not bushy tailed…rather shiny tailed. When I was in the supermarket yesterday, I happened to notice the mackerel and, only for the name tag, I wouldn’t have had a clue what type of fish it was. Up until recently, my knowledge of fish extended to cod, salmon, scallops, squid, mussels, prawns but if you’d put haddock or mackerel in front of me, I wouldn’t have had a clue! I’m slowly getting to grips with it all. So, tonight, I made Mackerel with chorizo, Sauteed potatoes and Roasted cauliflower with gremolata.
I started the roasted cauliflower with gremolata first as it was going to take the longest to cook (or so I thought!). I cut the cauliflower up into florets, washed and dried them before putting them into a bowl which had olive oil and seasoning in it. I mixed them around with a spoon and put them on a baking tray. Into the oven they went for 20 minutes.
Next, I started on the Sautéed potatoes – I kg of them cubed, boiled for 5 minutes and then dried on kitchen paper and let them sit while I got on with the mackerel.
While I was standing at the fish counter yesterday waiting on the haddock, I knew that there was mackerel in at least one dish of the cookbook but as I stared at the poor wee fish’s eyes, I kept saying to myself “No way am I cooking that! Nope. No way!” And what do you know? Anytime I say I can’t or simply won’t do something, I end up doing it. It was only befitting that Ireland were playing New Zealand today as I needed some sort of Haka-inspired pep talk to psyche myself up for cooking this fish. It really looked like a real proper fish. Em, probably because it was but you know what I mean - there is a difference between buying a fillet of fish and an actual fish-fish like the mackerel was. Ask and you shall receive. Well, there was no way I was going to be-head the fish so I asked the lovely lady behind the counter very nicely if she would be-head and de-tail the fish for me and she did. Thank God for that! There is only so much I can take as a vegetarian who prepares meat and fish for the family!
To cook the mackerel, I fried sliced chorizo with 12 cloves of garlic in the pan for a few minutes on each side. I then took the chorizo and garlic out of the pan and put them on a plate while I left the oil in the pan. I had the beloved latex gloves on for the next part. (By the way, I use a different pair every time just in case you think it’s the same pair!). I had to slash the fish three times on each side and then fry them in the chorizo oil for 2 minutes on each side. I then added white wine and lemon juice before adding the chorizo and garlic back into the pan and then covered the pan and simmered for another 5 minutes.
While the mackerel was cooking, I put on the potatoes to sauté with oil, seasoning and thyme. I just had to keep flipping the frying pan so that they didn’t burn. Other than that, they were simple to make. To finish off the cauliflower, I had to mix the zest of lemon, chopped parsley, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper together and cover the cauliflower with it.
I served up the fish, chorizo and garlic with freshly chopped parsley sprinkled over and a wedge of lemon and the veg.The verdict…
One mouthful into the mackerel and I knew it wasn’t going down well with Dear Husband. The first obstacle was the bone that he picked out of his mouth. Followed by the next one and the next one. So much for the fish being de-boned then. He didn’t like the taste of the mackerel as he thought it was too strong. Therefore, he gave the mackerel 2 marks out of 10. For the sautéed potatoes and cauliflower gremolata, he gave them 8 out of 10 so, I ended up with an average score of 5 marks out of 10 for the complete dish.
Dear Son took one look at his plate and I had to swiftly remove it to make the mackerel disappear. Wishful thinking on my part that he was going to go for it! He ate the sautéed potatoes at least but no cauliflower.
I ate the sautéed potatoes and cauliflower and I would agree with Dear Husband on the 8 marks out of 10. Again, potatoes and then lightly fried – yum. The cauliflower with gremolata was a real eye-opener. Definitely not something I’d come up with myself but it was so tasty so another good strategy for reaching your 5-a-day.
In retrospect, I really should have done the potatoes first as by the time I served dinner, I was hitting the 30-minute mark on the stopwatch by which time the cauliflower was well and truly baked. I definitely won’t be making mackerel again. I definitely will make the sautéed potatoes and cauliflower though. I really was disappointed with the mackerel as it’s a good source of omega-3 oils i.e. brain food so if Dear Son had have liked it, I’d have been happy. But alas, he knows what he likes and doesn't like and, unfortunately, it was most certainly a no from him. As my mother would say “Lynda, he’s very head strong. I wonder where he gets that from?!...Lynda”. Hmmm, I wonder…