Mackerel with Citrus and Vanilla
French Terra Madre chef Gérard Vives reveals his flare for flavors in this simple yet elegant fish recipe, in which horse mackerel, the original fish used for the recipe, was substituted by mackerel, because horse mackerel stocks are currently indicated as beeing overexploited in many areas. Mackerel is fully exploited in some areas, but is not yet a cause of concern.
Eating endangered fish is a "criminal act" according to French Terra Madre chef Gérard Vives, whose book, La bonne cuisine bon marché bonne pour la santé (Good, healthy cooking at a good price), dedicates an entire chapter to the fruits of the sea with recipes using only sustainable fish.
Also an expert on spices, in this simple yet elegant recipe adapted from his book, Vives plays citrus and vanilla against the distinctive rich flavor of mackerel.
Much of the commercial mackerel fishery in the northeast Atlantic has been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council but the UK'S Marine Conservation Society still recommends to look for fish caught using traditional methods such as handlines. The mackerel in this recipe can also be substituted with other oily fish such as anchovy or sardine, depending on the availability and sustainability of fish in your area.
1. The original recipe fish
- common names: Atlantic or Mediterranean horse mackerel
- scientific names: Trachurus trachurus, Trachurus mediterraneus
- characteristics: A small pelagic fish, living near the surface of the sea, the Atlantic horse mackerel is a migratory fish abundant in the Eastern Atlantic, including the North Sea, and is also found in the Mediterranean. The exact state of horse mackerel stocks is unknown, but recent scientific studies indicate that it is overfished.
The Mediterranean horse mackerel, Trachurus mediterraneus, is primarily found in the Bay of Biscay. The fish have a life span of about 15 years and reach reproductive maturity at the age of three. They should not be eaten until they are at least 25 centimeters long.
The delights of the cheap and tasty horse mackerel are little known. The fillets can be marinated and eaten raw or sautéed, and the whole fish can be grilled.
2. The Recipe (serves 2)
1 tbsp (15 g/0.5oz) butter
seeds scraped from ¼ vanilla pod
juice of 1 orange
juice of ½ lemon
juice of ½ grapefruit
2 x 300g/10oz mackerel, filleted
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the vanilla seeds plus juices from the citrus fruits. Add the fillets to the pan and sauté them in he sauce for 5 minutes over medium heat or until cooked through. Remove the fish from the sauce and serve with lightly steamed vegetables.
If desired, continue to cook the remaining sauce over low heat until reduced, adding a tablespoon of butter. Pour over dish.