Fish is on the menu for supper tonight
Taking in French, Indian, Chinese and Creole flavours, the island of Mauritius is known for its diverse culinary influences. This easy grilled fish recipe calls upon a typical Mauritian masala blend, incorporating curry leaf, mustard seed and fenugreek (worth seeking out online for its authentic flavour).
Heavily spiced dishes need a protein such as mackerel that can stand up to it. Before you make this recipe, ask a fishmonger to butterfly the fish, then serve it grilled with a pickled carrot salad for a taste of sunshine in the depths of winter.
Mauritian spiced butterflied mackerel recipe
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus at least 1 hour pickling time
Cooking time: 10 minutes
For the pickled carrot salad:
- 3 carrots (350-400g), peeled and cut into 2mm-thick circles
- 150ml apple cider vinegar
- 70g granulated sugar
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1⁄2 tsp flaky sea salt
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- Leaves picked from 10 sprigs of coriander
For the mackerel:
- 2 mackerel, butterflied
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 tbsp Spice Mountain Mauritius Masala (spicemountain.co.uk or see method for alternative spice mix)
- 3 tbsps light olive oil
Step 1: Put the sliced carrots in a container that fits them snuggly. Heat the vinegar in a pan with 50ml water to just below a simmer. Add the sugar, peppercorns, salt, mustard and coriander seeds. Stir to ensure the sugar has dissolved and pour the mixture over the carrots. Cover and leave to cool for at least 1 hour, ideally more (but no more than 8 hours).
Step 2: Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Lay the fish on it, skin side down. Combine the garlic, ginger, masala, oil and a pinch of salt and spread over the fish. Refrigerate for an hour. If you can’t find Spice Mountain’s Mauritius Masala, grind half a teaspoon each of yellow mustard seeds, coriander, cumin and red chilli flakes in a pestle and mortar, and mix with half a teaspoon each of ground turmeric and ginger, plus a few generous grinds of pepper.
Step 3: Turn the grill to its hottest setting, put a shelf 6-8cm from the heat source and close the oven door. Allow the grill to heat up for 10 minutes, turn your extractor fan on, then slide in the tray of mackerel and close the door. Grill for 6-7 minutes, until the spice mix is sizzling and turns golden and the fish begins to release its oils. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes.
Step 4: Drain the carrots of their pickling juice and mix with the fresh coriander leaves. Serve the pickled carrots alongside the fish.
Recipe from The Borough Market Cookbook by Ed Smith (£25, Hodder & Stoughton), out now.
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Image: The Borough Market Cookbook by Ed Smith, Hodder & Stoughton