Mark Hix recipe: Mackerel on toast with pickled gooseberries

Serves 4

Gooseberries and mackerel have always had a culinary affiliation, the berries' acidity and the oiliness of the mackerel are a perfect marriage. If you can find the red dessert gooseberries, even better – or do a mixture.

You will need to allow 2-3 days for the gooseberries to pickle.

4 small mackerel fillets
A little vegetable or corn oil for frying
Plain flour for dusting
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of sourdough or country bread, small enough to fit the mackerel
120-150g gooseberries
Enough cider vinegar to cover the gooseberries
1tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp of rapeseed oil
A handful of small salad leaves

A couple of days ahead of time, cut the gooseberries in half, then mix the cider vinegar and sugar together and mix with the gooseberries in a non-reactive bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to lightly pickle for 2-3 days.

Drain the gooseberries in a strainer and reserve the liquid. Mash about half of the gooseberries with a fork and put to one side.

Season the mackerel fillets and lightly dust the skin with flour, shaking off any excess. Heat a little vegetable oil in preferably a non-stick, or trusty frying pan and cook the mackerel, skin-side down, first for about 1½ minutes on each side, crisping up the skin.

Meanwhile, toast the bread and spread with the mashed-up gooseberries; lay the mackerel on top with the skin side up. Put the toast in the centre of your serving plates and scatter the leaves and remaining pickled gooseberries on and around. Spoon a little of the pickling liquid and rapeseed oil over the leaves.

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