We cooked this dish and guess how much it cost?

After watching Masterchef on BBC1 last week it inspired us to get in the kitchen and cook something light and fresh on Friday night. The one recipe that stuck in my mind was the Bread-crusted mackerel with rhubarb sauce and an apple, radish and frisée salad. With a preparation time of only 30-40 minutes (even with us arguing like a married couple about how to cut crusts off the bread) it was quick easy and delicious.

We followed the recipe almost down to the letter and next time there would be a couple of things that we would change. More on that later in the post. Mackerel is a fish that I use quite a lot of as it is always quite cheap per kilogram when it is smoked and in packets from the Supermarket or the local fish counter. But for this recipe we used fillets from the Supermarket fish counter. Kicking myself all the way to the checkout I promised we would make up for it by having more seasonal fish through the year.

Mackerel is an oily fish that has been used for years in Britain. My beloved Grandma in her kitchen, has to hand Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) and I remember the recipe Fennel Sauce for Mackerel.The sauce can be summed up by saying that you would need half a pint of melted butter and a bunch of fennel, bring to the boil then simmer it for a minute or so and then serve in a tureen or other serving dish. Tasty but almost heart attack inducing.

Fresh and spring were the two words that we wanted to go with our Friday night meal. The sharpness of Rhubarb would cut through the fish and be an excellent partner to the salad. It looked like Spring on a plate and with all these long cold nights, we really felt like a fresh food pick up. Whilst browsing the internet for mackerel recipes I learn that Picasso seemed to have a things about mackerel and ladies bits not quite sure what my Grandma would think about seeing those pictures hanging up on a wall.

If you want a cheap, healthy meal to kick-start the spring then this is the one to go for. If it all goes well then you will really win over a food lover with this dish. It’s simple yet great and who could ask for anything more.

Grab some bread, cut off the crusts and roll flat. Season with salt, pepper and dill. Then place a mackerel fillet in the middle of the bread. Use one mackerel fillet per person.  Roll up like a sausage. You may want to fiddle with the size of the fish, just use your eye and make sure the bread goes all the way around the fillet with not too much sticking out.

Then make the rhubarb sauce. Using around 2-3 sticks for two people, chop into 2 inch batons and add a dash of water and handful of caster sugar. Simmer until soft and then blend. Leave to one side

Prep the salad. Use some fresh radishes and a good lettuce leaf, we used a frisée lettuce that was growing in the Nottingham Organic Gardeners Polytunnel – they are good to us. Core and chop an apple and sprinkle over some lemon juice to keep fresh. Add to the salad later. Add some extra dill and parsely if you want or if you have some to hand. No need to go out of your way to get them.

Mix up the salad dressing. Roughly 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar to 5 oil. We had no groundnut oil because we’re terrible cooks and don’t normally use it. In the future we will do. Until we get some, a mix of sesame oil and olive will do. It was a little sharp when I first made it so kept adding oil until the taste was less ooooh and more mmmmh.

Then fry the bread parcels in some vegetable oil for 8-10 minutes, flipping half way through and adding some butter to the pan to baste the rolls with. Try to keep them looking golden brown rather than burnt. Ensure the rhubarb sauce is warm and dish the salad onto the plate. drain the Mackerel Rolls on some kitchen paper, cut in half and place on the plate with the sauce.

Even with my camera skills you can see that it looks colourful, vibrant and a little bit tasty. Something that you can easily repeat for friends and family without too much effort. In fact I might keep some mackerel in the freezer for emergency meals.

Total Cost for two people- £7.99

(list at the bottom of the page, trying to get to grip with formats and setting up a webpage still!)

If you want the full recipe click here.

What would I improve?

Not much but after eating nothing but smoked Mackerel for the past 2 years we both found Mackerel fillets a little bland. This could also be due to not enough seasoning on our part. We are going to try the recipe again with smoked Mackerel and maybe a touch of spice. The salad and the rhubarb sauce we could not fault, it blended with the dish perfectly and was such a great combination. The sharpness of the rhubarb cut through the buttered, fried white bread and fish like nothing else on the plate could. I made a passing comment about maybe doing the dish with a side of potato wedges in order to fill guests up a little bit but was shot down. A fresh dish doesn’t have the heavy weight potato in it.

Ingredients bought just for this dish

Two Mackerel Fish fillets -cal £2.70

Salad leaves – free from the allotment (would have been a £1)

Granny smith apples – £0.60

Radish – £1

Bread £1 (used 4 slices so less than £0.20)

Big bunch of dill £0.89

Rhubarb – £1.50 (will be using allotment rhubarb soon!)

Total from supermarket £6.89

From the store cupboard

White wine vinegar (sometimes we just pour in left over white wine to the bottle – is this wrong/bad?) estimated cost £0.50

sesame oil (whole bottle normally £1.20) used a tablespoon so roughly  £0.10

Caster suger (handful) rough cost again £0.20

Salt and black pepeper (Do you really want me to calculate the cost of seasoning?!)

Vegetable oil and butter – about £0.30

Cost of goods from the cupboard – £1.10

Total cost of meal £7.99

Admit that you love food that looks good but doesn’t cost the earth.

The plates were very clean afterwards

So in Summary

Yes I copied the Masterchef recipe made by Paul Elder but it was good and we’ll be following him closely in the following weeks to see if he improves and lives up to his first dish.

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2 Responses to Mackerel and Rhubarb

  1. vicki says:

    hi, i too want to try this recipe but am a little confused as to whether you cook the mackerel first… i know the recipe doesn’t say that you should, but in the photos yours looks like it’s been cooked first. i’ve been wantig to try this since seeing it on masterchef but can’t remember what the guy did. i can’t imagine raw mackerel would cook well enough during that time when wrapped in bread… thanks

    • beth says:

      Hi vicki, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you! the mackerel doesn’t need cooking before you wrap it up in the flattened bread. Just frying off the bread and mackerel parcels in butter will be enough. Fry for two minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown and then turn and fry for a further minute.

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