Grilled mackerel with preserved-lemon mayonnaise and parsnip chips

Serves 4 Starters and mains

04Greenpea March

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Ingredients

  • 1 plump head of garlic
  • 3tbsp oil from the preserved lemons (see below)
  • small bunch fresh thyme (lemon thyme would be good)
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 1tsp mild paprika
  • sea salt
  • 4 plump mackerel (about 350- 400g each), gutted
  • 6 slices preserved lemon,
  • chopped (see below)
  • 2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 200ml mayonnaise, made with lemon juice
  • 500g parsnips, peeled
  • 3-4tbsp olive oil
  • sprigs of parsley
  • lemon wedges

For the preserved lemons

  • 6 good lemons
  • sea salt
  • paprika
  • 1-2 dried chillies (optional)
  • olive oil

Method

To preserve the lemons, scrub them well, slice thinly, remove any pips then spread in a single layer on a freezer-proof tray. Freeze lemons overnight. Remove from the freezer, sprinkle with 1 rounded tbsp salt and leave for several hours. Drain the liquid and blot the slices dry with kitchen paper. Arrange the slices in layers in 1 or 2 kitchen jars which have been scrupulously cleaned and sterilised in a hot oven. Sprinkle a little paprika between the layers and add the dry red chillies, if you like heat. Pour olive oil to cover, bang jar(s) on the work surface to dispel air bubbles, then seal. Leave for at least 2 weeks. Make sure the lemons are kept covered by at least 1cm oil at all times. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5. Cut the papery top off the garlic with scissors then wrap the bulb in foil with 1tbsp lemon oil and 4-5 sprigs thyme. Cook in the oven for 45-60 minutes until soft. Cool. In a small dry pan toast the coriander seeds for a few minutes then grind coarsely. Mix the coriander and paprika to a paste with ½tsp salt and 1tbsp lemon oil. Cut 4-5 diagonal slashes in each side of each mackerel and rub in the paste. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the food. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the soft cloves out of the papery skin. Mix the garlic, chopped lemon and parsley into the mayonnaise. Preheat the grill. Cut the parsnips into wedges or fat chips and toss in 3tbsp olive oil. Turn on to a baking sheet and grill the parsnips, turning once or twice and brushing with extra oil if necessary, for about 6-7 minutes until tender and touched with brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and keep warm. Set the mackerel on a bed of thyme on a foil-covered grill pan. Brush with the remaining lemon oil and grill for about 5-6 minutes each side, checking to see if they’re done with the tip of a sharp knife. Serve the mackerel with the mayonnaise and parsnip chips. Decorate with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges.

04Greenpea March

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