Devilled Mackerel Fillets with Herb Mayonnaise and Cucumber and Fennel Salad

I gather inspiration for cooking wherever I can and this month's recipe was inspired by one of Marcus Wareing's 'chef's challenges' on 'Masterchef the Professionals'. To be fair to Marcus, he cooked this on camera, in what looked like a single take, and made it look easy. He then assured us 'it isn't' and gave contestants just 20 minutes to produce their version.

As a seasoned, Michelin-starred chef, Marcus had no difficulty de-boning and filleting a mackerel but I left that part to my fishmonger and started out with two pristine mackerel fillets.

devilled mackerel

Ingredients: (Serves 2).
Mackerel fillets x 2
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
Small cucumber x 1
Fresh dill
Head of fennel x 1
Egg yolks x 2
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Lemon x 1

Marcus was a bit vague about volumes but we did have the benefit of watching him in action. To start with he took a tablespoon of soft butter and mixed it with a level teaspoon of cayenne pepper and one of paprika, a generous grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt. He then used this to marinade the mackerel fillets (on both sides) before setting them aside. He then used a blender to whisk the eggs yolks with a steady drizzle of olive oil to produce a deep yellow mayonnaise that he dressed with pinches of dill.

cucumber fennel salad

Marcus then washed and sliced the fennel into bite-sized pieces and peeled and sliced the cucumber and mixed them together to produce a crunchy salad that he lightly-dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and some more dill. He then heated up a ridged griddle pan, to a 'high heat' and flash fried the mackerel (skin side down) noting the importance of getting 'good bar marks' on the skin and keeping the fillets intact. He then turned them over to cook the other side and promptly plated them up (skin side up) with the salad and the mayonnaise.

I am not going to pretend that my version resembled Marcus's, or that I executed it in 20 minutes, but it did make for an attractive, inexpensive and really tasty plate of food. Wine-wise I'd be drawn to a zesty, dry white (like this month's white Savoie: Domaine de l'Idylle 'Vieille Vigne' Blanc 2019) to complement the oily richness of the fish.

Bon appétit!

Jason Yapp

December Wines of the Month: £95.00 per case (of six bottles) delivered, saving £13.50 on list prices.