Benjamin Franklin once said “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”. As well as being very true, it’s also how I feel about posting recipes on this blog. Inspiration for a recipe may come to me at any time, and is often so fleeting that it must be written down immediately, or it may vanish forever. However, if it is retained, then follows the step of developing the idea into a workable, tasty recipe; something which I can take as long as I want over, I’ve spent months working some ideas out.
“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Benjamin FranklinBut finally comes the commitment of buying the ingredients and setting myself up to cook the recipe. This is where the three day countdown timer starts. I interact with the food by chopping, cutting, mixing, heating, crying (depending how badly it goes) until the dish is ready, photographed and eaten. All of the senses and emotions I experience through that process are entirely transient and unless committed to paper/web they will disappear very quickly.
I have twenty four dishes photographed and saved into folders, ready for this blog, yet there’s only 8 (including this one) on my site. And that is why blog posts are like fish, because if I leave them too long, they go past their sell by date and don’t get used. The fresher they are, the better.
Which leads me on to exactly the point of this post. I spent this morning wandering around the lovely Parliament Hill farmers’ market, eyeing up some quite beautiful looking produce, it’s well worth visiting if you’re in the area. I ended up buying, amongst other things, some beautiful, fresh, happy eggs from Fosse Meadows Farm and a big chunk of dark rye bread from Levain Bakery. I wandered home via my new favourite fishmonger, Archway Fresh Fish and Seafood, where I picked up a fresh, rainbow-shimmering mackerel the size of a mini baguette and a large bag of sprats (never cooked them before… what do I do?!).
All I needed was something to lighten these ingredients and give them some zing, which the yoghurt and wholegrain mustard achieved, creating a fresh mustard sauce which really tied it all together. This all colluded to making a healthy, hearty, 10-minute-make, hot lunch which was really filling and very, very tasty. And this time it went from market to blog in under three hours!
Mackerel on rye with poached eggs and mustard sauce
By Gavin Wren
Serves 2 as a main
1 large mackerel, filleted
4 slices of rye bread
4 eggs – as fresh as possible, it helps with the poaching.
8 tablespoons fresh yoghurt
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
Fill a large frying pan with water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar, place over a medium heat until the bubbles that form on the bottom of the pan start rising, if it starts to simmer or boil, then turn the heat down. Heat another frying pan over a medium-high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil in it.
Put the mackerel fillets into the oiled pan, skin side down, holding the fillet down onto the pan, so that it doesn’t curl up. Then gently break the eggs into the just-bubbling water one by one. It’s best to do this as close to the water as possible, so you are almost lowering the egg into the water, then time for four minutes.
At four minutes, turn the mackerel over, and cook for two more minutes. Then, using a slotted spoon, lift the eggs out of the water and check they’re cooked and not still runny. If cooked, lift them out and put them on a plate to one side.
Lay two slices of rye bread on each plate, then lay a mackerel fillet across them, followed by a couple of poached eggs. Spoon copious amounts of mustard yoghurt over it all at the table.