Jack Stein’s Tea Pickled Mackerel with Soda Bread

“This is a take on a traditional Cornish dish of tea pickled herring. Variants of this dish can be found all over the county, from Newlyn to Bude, differing in spice mixes or aromats. Soda bread is a traditional Celtic fringe staple that is an easy first homemade bread to try.”

SERVES 4
PREP: 15 mins plus 10 mins salting
COOKING: 1½ hours

For the Mackerel

  • 8 mackerel fillets
  • 200ml cider vinegar
  • 50ml Assam tea
  • 50g shallots peeled
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 lime zested
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 5 slices medium red chilli
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • vegetable oil
  • knob of butter for frying

For the Bread

  • 250g plain flour
  • 5g baking soda
  • 5g salt
  • 15g sugar
  • 235g yogurt

For the Mackerel

Combine all the ingredients, except the mackerel, in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour – creating a pickle. Salt the mackerel fillets on the flesh side and leave for 10 minutes. Pour the pickle into a tray. Wash the salt off the mackerel. Place flesh-side down in the pickle. Leave for 20 minutes.

Pat the skin dry and fry in vegetable oil skin side down, adding a little butter as the flesh starts to become opaque. Warm some of the pickled shallots and some of the pickling liquor and spoon over the fillets.

For the Bread

Mix the dry ingredients together and add the yogurt to form a dough. Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly-floured work surface. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large skillet or frying pan and place on a medium heat. Divide the dough into two pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece until it is about 2cm thick. Use a sharp knife and score the dough into quarters, cut 1-1½cm deep. Place the dough in the pan, score side down, and cook for 8 minutes. Turn over and cook for a further 8 minutes. The bread is cooked when the sides spring back after being pressed.

To finish, warm the soda bread and serve with the mackerel.

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