Thursday 24 November 2011

Mackerel with Harissa, Orange & Fennel

Whenever I hear the word 'harissa' I think vaguely of a spicy, aromatic North African sauce. It's actually most closely associated with Tunisia and Algeria, though some associate it with Moroccan food. Vivid red in colour, the Sichuan dried chillis I used aren't really the right type but after I was left aghast at the fancy £4 pot in the fancy section of Sainsburys, I decided it would do.

I used the harissa with some really fresh mackerel fillets, orange and fennel so that I could finally finish off that bloody cous cous that's been lingering in my cupboard for months. A splash of rose water brought it all to life; though quite a summery dish, the fiery spice made it nice and warming. The orange juice and pomegranate seeds cut through the richness of the mackerel flesh beautifully.


Makes a small jar

100gr dried chillis, soaked in boiling water for an hour
1 small onion
8 cloves of garlic
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
100ml vegetable oil

Toast the cumin and caraway seeds till fragrant and grind to a powder. In a blender add the garlic, onion, chillis (deseeded and rehydrated) and the salt and blend well, adding the oil as you go. Transfer to a small pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring often. Spoon into a sterilised jar and leave to cool.

Mackerel with Harissa, Orange & Fennel

Serves 2

2 large mackerel fillets
1 orange
2 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp rose water
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 bulb of fennel, sliced
1 small pomegranate, seeds picked
Cous cous, flecked with coriander and parsley, to serve

Heat up a tablespoon of oil and fry the fennel until softened. Salt the mackerel skin and in a non-stick pan fry the mackerel fillets skin side down until crispy. As they're frying, smear the flesh with the harissa paste. Transfer the mackerel fillets flesh side down on top of the fennel. Squeeze the orange juice into the fennel pan with the zest of the orange, add the rose water and cook until the mackerel is done. Transfer the fish out and if it's quite wet simmer until thick, or just spoon the fennel and the orange onto the cous cous. Scatter with the pomegranate seeds.


Peter M said...

An underated fish (mackerel) and one that's hearty enough to stand up to harissa.

Unknown said...

I love Moroccan flavours and really like the idea of the rosewater combined with the harissa and pomegranate in this recipe. Delicious.

Paunchos said...

Cracking combination. Especially given that Autumn has barely started yet.

Hollow Legs said...

peter - I agree. Needs the strong flavours I think.

GC - Thanks! The rosewater really gave it something.

Paunch - Yes, it was a bit summery, once it gets colder I am abandoning the cous cous for mash.

Unknown said...

Really interesting take on mackerel, looking forward to trying!

William Leigh said...

Tried to post and it went mental so let me know if this comes through twice...

Had a load of harissas in Morocco that used preserved lemons. And thus tasted entirely of preserved lemons. Glad you left it out of this.

(PS I'm being nice)

(PPS If you ever want chocolate to do some cooking let me know)

Hollow Legs said...

whatIcooked - Thanks! Mackerel is one of my favourite fish, so versatile.

William - I've never tried preserved lemon. I KNOW. Well done on being nice, it suits you. (I'm not very good at making chocolate things.)