Now, I like pink, but this is just ridiculous.
Mackerel with gooseberry sauce is a classic pairing. I love this fish, so this is a dish I’ve wanted to make since I first came across it on the menu of a pub almost five years ago. The reason I took so long is, although mackerel is always easy to get, gooseberries have a very short season and I inevitably forget about them during the brief period when they are around.
This year was very nearly no exception. Luckily, I accidentally came across some of the last fruit of the season, hiding behind some raspberries in Tesco. This jolted my memory about the mackerel dish so I ran off to the fish-counter and got a couple of large whole fish for me and Goon. Remembering the ridiculous situation Goon got in the last time we had mackerel, I got the fishmonger to remove the heads from these fish this time.
Like most of the gooseberries I’d seen, these ones were green, although slightly tinged with pink. I had no idea they would have such a dramatic colour change in my saucepan. All I did was simmer the berries with some, mint, sugar and white wine. Once they were soft, I passed the dark greenish mixture through a sieve. As the skins were left behind I was left with a reasonably dark pink liquid. The sauce didn’t turn to the lurid colour in the photograph until I melted a chunk of butter into the sauce.
Of course, like most small children, Goon got very excited by the brightly coloured food. In fact he was so excited by the sauce that, for the first time ever, he didn’t moan at all about the fish having bones! I couldn’t believe it!
I can see why mackerel and gooseberry has become such a classic pairing. Mackerel works well with acidic sauces that cut through its wonderful oily richness. The gooseberries have that acidity and a very interesting flavour too. Despite its psychadelic appearance, this meal was delicious.
I accompanied our mackerel with a potato and onion salad with sour cream, parsley and thyme and some steamed green beans. It was a very refreshing dinner for the hottest day of the year so far. It’s a shame the gooseberries won’t be around for much longer.
Gooseberry Sauce for Mackerel
(makes enough to accompany 2 mackerel)
175g washed gooseberries
20g caster sugar
around 10 mint leaves
white wine or cider to cover. A sweet-ish wine with elderflower flavours works really well.
15g butter (I used unsalted but then added a little salt at the end)
A little salt if necessary
Simmer the gooseberries, mint and sugar in the wine or cider until they are soft. Gently mash them up using a wooden spatula, then pass the mixture through a sieve. Melt in the butter, taste and add more sugar and the salt if it needs it.