Saturday 29 August 2020 12:00 pm

Mark Hix tosses a celebratory salad to welcome you back to the office

I’m now back up and running at the Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis and it’s been surprisingly busy. Both locals and London-folk have been making the journey, which is really heartening after a terrible few months. 

This week’s recipe is my take on a Salade Nicoise. Tuna stocks are not in a good way, so the humble mackerel, a distant relative of the tuna, steps in. There are actually similarities in flavour to the canned tuna that is generally used for a run of the mill Nicoise salad, and it’s my opinion that mackerel cooked like this tastes better anyway.

It’s a cheap and very cheerful dish that will give you a healthy lift as you prepare to head back to the office.

Fish House salad (serves 4):

  • 1 shallot, peeled, halved and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2tbls cider vinegar, plus a little more for the dressing
  • 150ml or enough rapeseed oil to cover the mackerel
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 4 medium or 8 small mackerel fillets
  • 2 free range hens eggs, semi soft boiled for five minutes then cooled under the cold tap
  • 12-6 new potatoes, cooked in their skins and halved or quartered
  • 200-250g ripe tomatoes
  • 80-100g green beans, cooked
  • 100-120g podded weight of broad beans, cooked
  • 2 little gems, cleaned and leaves washed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Heat a couple tablespoons of the rapeseed oil in a saucepan and gently cook the shallot, garlic and all the spices for 2-3 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the rest of the rapeseed oil, the cider vinegar and lemon and heat to a gentle simmer and season well with sea salt. 
  • Lightly season the mackerel fillets, heat a little of the rapeseed oil in a heavy or non stick frying pan and fry on a high heat, skin side down first for 2-3 minutes on each side. Drop in the mackerel fillets into the oil 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. Whisk the oil up and add some more vinegar to taste for the dressing.
  • To serve, cut the tomatoes into wedges or chunks. Toss the little gems with some of the dressing, beans, potatoes and tomatoes, 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.
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