Sweetcure smoked Mackerel, with herb potato salad and Kasteel Cru Champagne Lager

This really doesn't qualify as a recipe, it's really more of an assembly of 'tasty stuff', with the star of the show being some fantastic sweet cured smoked mackerel fillets. The better quality fish you can get a hold of the nicer the meal will be, these were Demerera sweetcured smoked Mackerel fillets but it would work with any oily smoked fish - just stay away from the bright yellow dyed stuff!

As you can see from the picture I served the fish with a simple spring onion and herb potato salad, a crisp green salad, and thanks to a reccomendation from
Fuggled, a bottle of Kasteel Cru Champagne Lager.

To make the potato salad simply boil some new potatoes in a little salted water until just tender but not overly soft, drain and leave to cool for a few minutes. While the potatoes are cooling chop up some spring onions (I used 4 spring onions to one medium sized pan of potatoes) a small handfull of parsley and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle tip in the onions and herbs (as shown in the photo), then add two tablespoons of decent mayonnaise and season liberally with salt, pepper and paprika. If you prefer your potato salad with a little spice then use cayenne pepper as well as paprika. Leave to one side, to be eaten cold.

The fish couldnt be easier - and if using smoked cured mackerel it is already cooked so only needs the skin crisping up and the meat slightly warming through. The best way to do this I've found is to use a non-stick griddle pan. Heat it until very hot and then lay the fillets skin side down, no need for oil or seasoning as the fish has both in abundance, and cook for no more than one minute or until the skin is nicely charred and crisp. Keep an extra keen eye on them if using the sweetcure mackerel as the sugar will burn very quickly if you aren't careful. Serve with a good spoonfull of the potato salad and a crisp green salad of your choice.

The flavours really do work so well together - crisp skin, rich salty/smokey/sweet fish, fresh herby potato salad and crisp green salad - it's a perfect summer evening meal. In fact if you had a BBQ to crisp the fillets up on I think it would be even better.
I asked followers on Twitter (@EisntCNeil) for a beer match and was reccomended a 'proper bohemian pilsner' by @Fuggled but didn't really have anything of that exact description in the beer cupboard so opted for a bottle of Kasteel Cru Champagne Lager (it's brewed with Champagne yeast) instead. The beer pours a really unusual light gold colour, with very small fine carbonation as you would expect from the champagne yeast.

There was a small bubbly bright white head that quickly disappeared, very little aroma, just a lager freshness and a slight hint of citrus. The flavour is fairly light and combined with the bubbly mouthfeel it is actually quite unusual, and not entirely beerlike.

There's also fresh, lemony citrus with a little citrus hop thats sharp but not drying and a definate winey quality to it. The beer matches ok with the mackerel but is a little overpowered by it aswell, however its a great cleanser for the potato salad and stands up to the onion no problems. If i'm honest the mackerel is a touch sweet to pair well with the freshness of the lager. Maybe a little lemon squeezed over the fillets would have pulled it all together.

Overall it's a nice, if a little unusual, crisp, zesty lager. It didn't blow me away but I liked it and I think Chardonnay or Champagne fans would really enjoy this. It would also make a great drink to serve with canopies, or as a palate cleanser between courses.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great dish for beer but Casteel Cru (horrible stuff, I think) is just too weak flavoured and lacking intensity. I think something like Pilsner Urquell or an unfiltered lager would be better, as Al suggested - a bit of hop flavour, some good body, but nothing too overpowering.

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  2. I didn't mind it but it didn't really match too well with the meal as I mention. It was one I bought ages ago and had been meaning to try, don't tend to have many lagers of that type in the house so was limited on choice. maybe with summer coming it's time to stock up!

    That sweet cure mackerel with potato salad is a must try though mate, super simple but super tasty. My kind of meal

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  3. Bright yellow dyed stuff? What sort of fish is that?

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  4. Most of the smoked fish (haddock, mackerel etc) that you can get in the supermarket has a yellow dye added to make it look more 'smoked'. If you buy naturally cured and smoked fish it is a much paler shade. A lot of the bright yellow smoked fish has actually just been treated with a smoke flavoured treatment, and no real smoke at all!

    The proper stuff is more expensive but the flavour isn't even comparable, so much sweeter, richer and tastier.

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  5. Smoke fail. Surely it must be cheaper to smoke on mass scale rather than adding expensive dyes which, quite frankly, make it sound horrible!

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