Saturday 16 December 2017

Get to grips with oily fish

Barbecued mackerel will nourish your noggin, 
and not your waistline.

Fried Mackerel
Fried Mackerel
Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

"There is no health without mental health,” stresses psychiatrist, Professor Jim Lucey. So, what if you could eat to charge your brain?

You can. What if there were foods to help fertilise your brain cells? There are! Recipes pumped with omega-3 fats and B vitamins are your new BFs (Brain Fertilisers). Following last week’s column on B vitamins, here’s another recipe to hot-wire your neurotransmitters.

Smart fats, like omega-3s, nourish your noggin and not your waistline. 
Fill your shopping basket with oily 
fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies.

Plant-based omega-3s are just as tasty. Think walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, 
spirulina and flax. But beware: the side effects include luminous skin, better mood and happier hormones.

Fried Mackerel

Barbecue Mackerel with 
Easy-as-Hell Fennel Salad and Parsley-powered Potatoes

Serves 5.

Mackerel is a gloriously rich fish, 
spinning with omega-3 goodness. If you’re planning a barbecue, you can make this salad the day before and keep it covered in the fridge.


2 medium fennel bulbs

1 garlic clove, crushed

125ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons good-quality sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon whole black or white peppercorns, crushed

6 tablespoons pitted green olives 
(not canned)

For the baby potatoes, you will need:

Enough baby potatoes for 5 people

A few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Loads of fresh parsley, torn

Maldon salt flakes to taste

5 fresh mackerel fillets


Make sure your fennel is fresh and 
tender — age tends to turn the outer 
layers leathery. A bit like ourselves. Find the slicing blade that fits snugly into your food processor’s bowl. Thinly slice both fennel bulbs, reserving the wispy fronds to use as garnish later. You’re looking for very finely sliced fennel (a sharp knife and patience also works).

In a separate bowl, socialise the crushed garlic, the extra-virgin olive oil, the sherry vinegar, the fennel seeds 
and some crushed black or white 
peppercorns, whichever you are using.

Spoon this mixture into the bowl of finely sliced fennel and leave it to infuse until hunger hollers. This dish will last a good few days in the fridge.

Boil or steam the baby potatoes for 
up to 20 minutes. While they’re warm, add the extra-virgin olive oil, the crushed garlic cloves, the torn parsley and the salt flakes. Toss, then set aside.

Now, cook the mackerel. Give the fish fillets a lick of extra-virgin olive oil and throw them on a hot barbecue or under a grill. As soon as the sides of the fish start turning up (around two minutes), turn the fillets over and cook them for another few minutes. That’s it. Don’t forget about the bones. Gently pull the flesh away from the main bone once the fish is cooked; the rest is a cinch.

When you’re ready to serve the dish, 
scatter the reserved fennel fronds on top of the fennel salad, followed by the pitted green olives. If these are added in advance, the fronds will wilt 
and turn grey, while the olives will 
cannibalise the fennel’s delicate taste.

We serve everything together on 
the garden table, and let our guests 
help themselves.

Sunday Independent

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