Don’t get me wrong, I love Winter comfort food. Rich beef cobblers with pickled walnuts, spicy haggis and mashed potatoes, thick, vegetable-rich bacon soup with dumplings, creamy chicken pies, and brussel sprouts and chestnuts as far as the eye can see. But this Winter has been a long one, and it gets to a point where you want something that tastes fresh. Something simple, that takes no time at all to cook, something crisp.
And if you’re poor like me, if the food shopping is dictated by what’s cheap and what’s on sale, maybe you’re also craving something that tastes of the sea.
My usual supermarket recently did something glorious – it started selling stripey-label smoked mackerel. Affordable smoked mackerel. Now, I’m a big believer in buying local and buying from small shops, but right now I am reliant on supermarkets for a lot of things. I have a great greengrocer, but the butchers closed down and despite this being a coastal town, the fishmonger himself sells more imported, packaged fish than fresh caught local produce. The wonderful co-ops for food springing up around the country like Catchbox haven’t yet reached my corner of the UK. So this was BIG, for me.
What better to go with it than a punnet of delicate samphire sprigs?
Mackerel and Samphire Pasta
Sometimes simple is best, and this recipe is definitely simple.
2 fillets of smoked mackerel, flaked, skin off
1 punnet fresh samphire
4 servings pasta
1 knob butter
4 handfuls watercress, washed and picked over
2″ long piece of cucumber
Bring a pan of water to the boil – do not add salt. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al-dente or to your preferred consistency. Just before the pasta reaches that point, add the samphire to the pan and cover. Drain, return to the pan and leave to one side. Toss the mackerel in with the pasta and samphire. In a small milk pan, heat the butter until melted. Finely slice the radishes and cucumber. Arrange a bed of watercress on the plate, sprinkle around with the radish and cucumber. Spoon out a serving of mackerel and samphire pasta onto the watercress and drizzle over with melted butter. Add a little pepper.
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