Mackerel with Gooseberries

John Burton Race complements rich, oily mackerel fillets with a ginger-spiked sauce and tangy tarragon-dressed salad
By John Burton Race
Mackerel with Gooseberries
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 4 whole mackerel, gutted and cleaned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 400 g gooseberries, washed and drained
  • 25 g ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 orange, zest only

For the tarragon vinaigrette

  • 160 ml white wine vinegar
  • 500 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 25 g tarragon, lightly bruised
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

To serve

  • handful rocket
  • handful baby chard
  • handful frisée
  • handful lollo rosso


1. Wash the fish under cold running water and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper. Turn the fish on its side and fillet it, cutting down each side of the backbone. Discard the bone remove any pin-bones from the fillets with tweezers. Turn the fillets over and score the skin with a knife, then season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil until it is smoking hot. Lay the mackerel fillets in the pan flesh-side down and fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over and cook the other side for another 2 minutes. Add half of the butter to the pan and when it melts and begins to foam the fillets are ready. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

3. Melt the remaining butter in a small lidded pan and add the sugar. Stir in the gooseberries, ginger and orange zest. Cover with the lid and cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes.

4. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to evaporate the liquid, stirring occasionally. This should take about 10 minutes. Put the sauce to one side and keep warm.

5. For the tarragon vinaigrette: put the vinegar in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper, whisking until the salt has dissolved. Pour in the oil, while whisking, followed by a few drops of lemon juice to lift the seasoning. Add the smashed garlic cloves and tarragon and leave to infuse.

6. Put the salad leaves in a separate bowl and dress with the vinaigrette just before serving. Place the mackerel onto serving plates with a spoonful of the gooseberry sauce on the side and the dressed salad leaves.

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