Saturday, 10 July 2010

Spotted Mackerel with a Cream Prawn Sauce

Moving to Queensland from London meant I had a whole new set of fish to learn about. Some are similar like the dory and members of the cod family while others I saw on the counters in London such as barracuda, salmon and snapper. In general though most of them can be compared to fish I am already used to in terms of texture and taste.

This is the first time I have cooked with Spotted mackerel which is a beautiful fish caught from the east coast of Australia. The flesh is similar to the Atlantic mackerel, but has very little dark meat, it is less fishy to the palate and as the fish grows larger so it allows nice square portion sizes to be cut. Visually the two fish are different as the Atlantic mackerel has the amazing dark blue/green external flashes on its flanks whereas the Spotted mackerel is a stunning silver sided beast. The monger at Aussie Seafood House, Lawton produced some beautiful fillets from the fish that was about 1.25 kg (my knives are still on a container ship heading our way so he had to do it for me).

This is a simple way to serve fish and can be used with any species although it may favour white fish slightly more. I decided to cook the fish in my favourite way by seasoning well then cooking skin down in a hot pan with olive oil for 2-3 minutes then finishing off in a hot oven for a further 8 minutes. I just feel this method gives a more even cook than on the hob. This method is also wonderful for such species as dover and lemon sole, whole place and other smaller flatfish.

I decided to serve the fish with a prawn sauce although the wife wanted an oyster sauce from a bottle - yikes! I removed the shells from the prawns which I then sautéed in olive oil with some chopped shallot and a little garlic. After a couple of minutes I flambéed with some brandy, added a little chopped fennel, enough weak chicken stock to cover the shells and reduced by half. Once reduced I strained into another saucepan and reduced by half again, seasoned, and added a little cream. It is such a simple sauce and if you find yourself buying prawns and don’t need the shells just pop them in the freezer for a sauce next time. I have found dill instead of fennel works well especially if you are not partial to aniseed. I served blanched pak choi with the dish.

If I were directly comparing to the Atlantic mackerel I would have to say the Aussie fish wins this time. The texture was so beautifully soft and flavoursome and the ability to serve even shaped size portions allow a better consistently in cooking.

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