Damien, the head chef in my Soho restuarant, came up with this mackerel tail idea at what I call Challenge Hix, a little competitive thing I do with my chefs on Tuesday mornings. I get them all together and we have a cook-off doing 20 dishes using random, seasonal ingredients.
8 mackerel tails, cut about 3-4cm up the body
2-3tbsp self-raising flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
For the broth
1 litre good fish stock
30-40g root ginger, peeled and finely shredded
1 medium red chilli, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, finely shredded on the angle
A handful of seashore vegetables like samphire, sea aster and sea purslane, washed with large leaves torn down
Preheat 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer.
Have two bowls ready, one with the milk and the other with the flour, seasoned. Coat the pieces of mackerel in the flour, shaking off the excess, then put them in the milk and then coat the pieces in the flour once again.
Carefully drop the mackerel pieces into the hot oil and cook for about 5-6 minutes – making sure to move them around. When they are really crisp, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain carefully on kitchen paper.
Meanwhile bring the fish stock to the boil, add the ginger and chilli and simmer for a minute. Now add the seashore vegetables and simmer for just a couple minutes so they still have a bit of bite. Then remove the broth from the heat and stir in the spring onions, seasoning to taste.
To serve, divide the pieces of mackerel between four bowls and pour the soup over, serving immediately.