This recipe is both hearty and bright and a great way to start the year. It makes use of the wonderful smoked mackerel available all year round from Sylvia and David Jennings on Islington Farmers’ Market and some staple winter vegetables.
The earthy flavour of the artichokes really complements the salty, smoky mackerel and the lightly pickled veg brings it all to life. You could try this with a variety of vegetables – the photo is actually with roast and pickled cauliflower; fennel also works really well.
1 medium smoked mackerel; 5 or 6 medium Jerusalem artichokes; breadcrumbs; plain flour; 1 egg; whisked for egg wash; salt; ground white pepper
1 large carrot; half a small cauliflower; 1 tsp caraway seeds; 2 tbsps cider vinegar; ¼ tsp honey; virgin rapeseed oil
Set the oven to 200˚C
Scrub, but don’t peel the artichokes and cut off any extra knobbles. Roast the artichokes until soft. This could take between 25 and 45 minutes depending on the type of artichoke – check halfway by giving them a prod.
Skin and bone the mackerel, flake off the flesh and remove any further bones.
When the artichokes are roasted place them on a board, trying to keep any of the sticky syrup and caramelised bits that might have rendered off. Split them lengthways and scoop out the soft insides. Reserve the skins if you like (see below). Add the insides of the artichokes with any sticky bits and syrup to the mackerel, season with salt and plenty of ground white pepper and mash together.
Form into patties, whatever size you prefer, and place in the fridge.
Slice the carrot into small batons and thinly slice the cauliflower (and you can use any tiny florets that fall off). Blanch the cauliflower and carrot together in boiling, salted water for no more than two minutes. They should still be quite hard.
Get a small saucepan to a medium heat and then gently toast the caraway seeds. When they’re giving off a good aroma add the cider vinegar and turn down the heat. Reduce to about half. Stir in the honey and the rapeseed oil and then while still hot, toss the carrots and cauliflower in this mixture. Set aside.
Take the mackerel patties out of the fridge. Lightly dust with flour, dip in the egg wash and then in the breadcrumbs to coat.
Cover the base of a frying pan with oil and bring to a medium to high heat. Fry the fishcakes on both sides in oil until golden brown outside and hot all the way through (poke with a skewer to check).
Drain the fishcakes on kitchen roll and then serve with the pickled vegetables.
If you’ve kept the artichoke skins, you can cut away any dark or burnt bits and then refry in the hot oil until crisp (but don’t let them burn). Drain them and then sprinkle with sea salt. You can either serve these with the rest of the meal or keep them for a little snack the next day!