Posh fish fingers – with two disastrous accompaniments

Over the last few months I’ve been following Great British Menu on BBC2, and despite my extreme disappointment that James Sommerin didn’t make the final for Wales (I love his food!) I thoroughly enjoyed the series.  The shows containing the final menu choices and the banquet itself were shown last week, and I felt very inspired by the fish course of “Mackerel with Gooseberries”, thinking this was something I could adapt at home.

The actual dish that made it to the banquet consisted of a fillet of mackerel wrapped in bread with mustard and pan fried, accompanied by gooseberry wine jelly and gooseberry puree.  Kenny Atkinson’s recipe can be found here complete with a picture of how it should look !  Although great for a dinner party, the gooseberry accompaniment took far too long to prepare, and didn’t look substantial enough for a week night tea so I decided that I would come up with my own additions.

Unfortunately I didn’t really think about that when I went to buy the mackerel, and when I arrived back home I discovered that I didn’t have that much to hand.  To replace the gooseberry element I wanted something that was quite sharp, to cut through the fattiness of the mackerel fish finger.  I decided to cook some red cabbage in red wine and balsamic vinegar, figuring this would have the required sweet and sour flavour.  Finally I needed some carbs to bulk the meal out.  After scouring my cupboards I found a tin of potatoes, trying to make them slightly more exciting I decided that it would be a good idea to roast these.

To actually start cooking the meal I began by draining the potatoes and sticking them in the oven (at about 200C) coated in oil and salt to roast and crisp up.  I then sliced up some cabbage and set this on a low heat (covered with a lid) with about 50 mls of red wine and 20mls of balsamic to cook down.

Next I pin-boned my mackerel fillets.  I must say that when I started I had no idea how difficult this would prove to be.  The bones were quite tough to remove and many snapped instead of coming out cleanly leaving me poking around in the flesh with my tweezers.  The end result was not the prettiest looking bits of fish I had ever seen!  When I was finally finished (and covered in bits of mackerel) I rolled out my bread which was to be wrapped around the fish.  For this I used slices of white bread (medium thickness), which I cut the crusts off and then flattened with a rolling pin.

The mackerel fillets after being pin-boned (butchered!)Rolling out the bread

To assemble the posh fish fingers I brushed the bread with Dijon mustard before placing the fillet inside and wrapping the bread around.  I then trimmed the ends of the fillets to make a clean rectangle before pan frying the parcels.

Making the fish fingers

A finished posh fish finger

After about 3 or 4 minutes cooking each side these were cooked and it was time to serve up.  I retrieved my potatoes from the oven and was pleased with how golden they had turned out and then finally I added the cabbage to the plates.

Frying the fish fingers

And so onto the eating…  Well the potatoes may have looked nice, but they were really dry.  The addition of copious amounts of mayonnaise made them edible, but really not something to try again.  The cabbage looked great too, it didn’t even taste too bad, but somehow I had managed to give it the texture of rubber and no amount of chewing would break it down rendering it inedible.

The Final Dish

The redeeming element on the plate was the mackerel fish finger.  The fish was soft, the bread was crispy and the whole thing tasted great.  I should have just served up plates of these!

I would definitely make the fish fingers again, and if I can find the time I would love to try the proper accompaniments or else serve them with some salad as a starter.  I certainly won’t be giving my accompanying choices a go again!


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