Mackerel with gooseberries

Starters and soups

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 2 hours
  • Cooking time: 2 hours
 © Andrea Jones


For the pickled gooseberries

  • 100ml/3½fl oz water
  • 120ml/4¼fl oz gooseberry wine
  • 300ml/10½fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 100ml/3½fl oz rapeseed oil
  • 160g/5½ oz caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 200g/7¼ oz gooseberries
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon

For the lemon oil

  • 6 lemons, zest only
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 pints/1.7 litres rapeseed oil

For the gooseberry wine jelly

  • 500ml/18 fl oz gooseberry wine
  • 100g/3½ oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp agar agar flakes

For the mackerel

  • 2 x 600g/1lb 5¼ oz mackerel, filleted, pin-bones removed
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp English mustard
  • 1 small loaf white bread, crust removed, frozen then sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the gooseberry purée

  • 500g/1lb 1½ oz gooseberries
  • 100g/3½ oz caster sugar
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • 25ml/1fl oz double cream

For the pickled lemon zest

  • 1 lemon, peel only, white pith removed, sliced thinly
  • 200g/7¼ oz caster sugar
  • 200ml/7¼fl oz water
  • 200ml/7¼fl oz white wine vinegar

To serve

  • 50g/1¾ oz mustard cress, or shiso cress


For the pickled gooseberries:

  1. For the pickled gooseberries, heat the water, wine, vinegar, oil, sugar, lemon zest and juice, mustard seeds and peppercorns until boiling. Add the gooseberries and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the tarragon and set aside to pickle overnight.
  2. Drain the gooseberries, remove the tarragon sprigs and set aside.
  3. For the lemon oil, heat the lemon zest, thyme and rapeseed oil. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse for four hours. Strain the liquid and discard the lemon zest and thyme.

For the gooseberry wine jelly:

  1. For the gooseberry wine jelly, line a 10cmx6cm/4inx2½in tray with cling film.
  2. Heat the wine, sugar and agar agar flakes in a pan, whisking slowly, until boiling and the agar agar has dissolved. Continue to simmer until the mixture reaches 80C/176F (use a digital thermometer to check this).
  3. Pour the jelly into the tray and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours, or until set. Cut the jelly into 1.5cm/½in cubes.

For the mackerel:

  1. For the mackerel, season with salt and set aside for three minutes. Pat the fillets dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Place two of the mackerel fillets, head-to-tail, onto a large piece of cling film. Roll the fillets up tightly to form a sausage shape in the cling film. Repeat with the remaining mackerel fillets. Chill in the fridge for one hour.
  3. Remove the cling film and brush the mackerel fillets with a little English mustard. Wrap the mackerel fillets in the slices of bread and wrap again tightly in the cling film. Cut the mackerel fillets into 3cm/1¼in slices and remove the cling film.

For the gooseberry puree:

  1. For the gooseberry purée, place all of the ingredients into a vacuum pack bag and cook in a pan of simmering water for 30 minutes.
  2. Carefully open the bag and blend the contents in a blender to a smooth purée. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and transfer to a plastic squeezy bottle.

For the pickled lemon zest:

  1. For the pickled lemon zest, cook the lemon strips in a pan of simmering water for two minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for three minutes; add the lemon zest and simmer for a further five minutes.
  2. Add the vinegar and simmer for a further four minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Drain the pickled lemon zest and set aside to cool.

To serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 80C/176F/Gas ¼.
  2. Place the diced jelly onto a tray and warm in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and fry the mackerel, turning regularly, for 2-3 minutes, or until the bread is golden-brown and crisp.
  3. Pipe a line of gooseberry purée onto each of four serving plates. Arrange the diced jelly and pickled gooseberries in a line next to the purée and garnish the jelly with the pickled lemon zest and cress leaves. Arrange two discs of the breaded mackerel next to the jelly and finish with a little drizzle of lemon oil.

Top recipe tip

This recipe makes more lemon oil than you will need. Any remaining lemon oil can be kept for up to two months in an airtight jar and used in other recipes.