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Spring Mackerel Salad

I have opinions on fish.

Once upon a time, pretty much as long ago as I can remember, my dad owned a fishing tackle shop in South Manchester. He has always and still does like to fly fish ALOT. We would go on holiday to places so that my mother could paint and my father could fish – as a general rule this would equate to places where it rained, 24/7. However, my family holidays were filled with many a joyful moment attempting to make both painting and fishing (not at the same time..) a skill of my own. I failed on both counts!

What I also gleaned from these trips was that fish farming seemed to be, amongst my father and his fishermen friends, a particularly unpopular development in the world of aquatic vertebrae.

We would stay in fishing and hunting lodges and I remember posters with visual examples of how to spot a farmed fish in your spoils. The images of farmed fish didn’t look too happy. Dead grey eyes, flaking scales and ravaged fins were on offer whilst above sat a plump healthy salmon with sparkling pupils and a full coat of scaly armour. As sure as I am that this poster was to an extent an exaggeration it put me right off any fish that might have seen a farm.

All of that is all well and good. However as someone who loves food and spends a lot of time eating in restaurants that probably use farmed fish and so on I have definitely gone against my childhood morals since that first depiction of fish farming. But I have been thinking on fish farming of late, and considering this article in the Guardian, it seems to me that packing fish in like battery hens is potentially becoming more acceptable…thoughts most welcome. It strikes me that as a nation who are consistently made aware of battery farming land animals we should probably take note of the marine equivalent.

As a result of these considerations I left work the other night craving fish, and managed to find some smoked sustainably sourced Mackerel to add to a warm spring salad for two.

2 smoked Mackerel fillets (preferably line-caught)

5/6 spring onions dependent on size, chopped (to create little green&white pinstripe cylinders)

4 cloves of garlic,crushed

Lots of little tomatoes (we used red and yellow), halfed

New potatoes

Creme Fraiche

Mustard

a couple of chillis, chopped (remove seeds if you don’t want it too hot)

Parsley (only a sprinkling of torn up flat leaf)

Any other springy bits and pieces you have kicking about the fridge (We had some red onion salsa left over from dinner the previous night)

Herby leaves on the side (Dandelion would work well)

*Put the potatoes on to cook with lots of water and some salt

*In a big pan with a little olive oil fry spring onions, garlic and chilli until soft but only the palest shades of golden

*Add the fish and flake up, stirring to coat everything in the garlic and chilli flavours

*Drain the potatoes and chop up into chunks (I have a pretty big gob so for me this is big – I’m sure all you civilised folks out there have perfect petite mouths – in which case – chop smaller)

*Chuck the potatoes into the big pan

*Stir everything around to get it all coated and amalgamated, check the seasoning – probably add pepper, salt will depend on your fish

*Add the tomatoes and the rest of the fridge foraging finds *Once the tomatoes have started to melt down into the mixture add Creme Fraiche to taste, and check the seasoning

*Scatter over the parsely and serve with salad leaves and a fair drizzle of balsamic.

I have no further photos – I was starving!

But I do have fish related links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/24/farmed.fish.climate.change

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/tags/fish-farming

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/oceans/north_sea

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/oceans/what-we-are-doing/sustainable-seafood/sustainable-seafood-frequently-asked-questions

http://www.msc.org/

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