This is a Beetroot and Mackerel Salad salad I used to make quite often, until I bought a new jar of pickled beetroot last summer that tasted off. When I checked the sell-by date it was fine. Then, I checked the ingredients and, instead of using vinegar proper they’re using spirit vinegar instead. The aftertaste was just awful. That jar is still sitting in my cupboard – really must do more spring-cleaning! For this I decided on buying one of those vacuum-packed cooked beets.And yet, I would never get through all of them. Okay, I could pickle some of them myself as I have lots of white wine vinegar, and empty glass jars with airtight lids – yes, haven’t bothered to recycle for a while. Then, I noticed in one of my local supermarkets that they were selling loose beets. So I went for a couple of those instead. Can’t quite believe I’m admitting this here, but…I thought they were cooked already. It wasn’t until I sliced through one of the root at their base that I realised I’d have to cook them. Easy! Bring them to a boil and simmer until cooked. I’ve never eaten beets any nicer than freshly cooked, and really like the idea of roasting them, too. Sort of glad the pickled stuff put me off and that I’ve found a new veg. Slight gripe, though – there were no leaves on them which is why I thought they were in fact cooked. They must be keeping the leaves for their bags of pre-packed salads! Huh! Happen to love the crunchiness of the stems. Besides, their colour would look great in this salad.
I prefer this salad as hot and cold. The potatoes sautéed, then the outer slices of the beets (if you’re going to slice them into cubes) added along with the circles of green jalapeño chilli – their flavour raw is too overpowering for me. Other flavours to go with? Lime is my first choice, especially with mackerel. Next time I might try this with pan-fired mackerel drizzled with lime. And, perhaps a little honey in the vinaigrette to have that as a sweet note.
Beetroot and Mackerel Salad, with boiled eggs, bacon, sautéed potatoes and lots of marjoram
- rapeseed oil for frying and olive oil for the vinaigrette
- about 250g (8.81 oz) x loose uncooked beetroot, plus leaves – instructions and photo on how to cook and cube them below
- 300g (10.58 oz) x salad potatoes per person (I’m using Charlotte), scrubbed, put on their sides and sliced. Then, on their flat side sliced in half or into 3 pieces. Turn them around and slice into cubes, about 1½ cm (0.59 “). Pat dry with kitchen paper. See photo below
- 2 x medium free range (cage free) eggs, boiled
- 1 or 2 x slices of back or streaky bacon per person, either pan-fried until crisp or grilled/broiled
- 1 x 120g or 82g drained weight (4.23 or 2.89 oz drained) can mackerel in oil or brine OR smoked mackerel
- handful x pumpkin seeds per person
- 3 or 4 x silverskin pickled onions per person
- 1 x jalapeño chilli, sliced into rings, seeds discarded – optional
- 1/2 x teaspoon dried marjoram
- handful x fresh parsley, chopped – optional
- white wine vinegar
- wedges of lime, to serve
- honey, for the vinaigrette – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- For the sautéed potatoes: put a large heavy-based pan/skillet on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). When pan is hot enough, and the potatoes are prepared, add just enough rapeseed oil to cover its base (don’t add too much oil as it can spit as you’re shaking the pan). Carefully add the potatoes and constantly shake the pan to prevent the potatoes from sticking. This took me about 5 minutes. Once they stop sticking to the pan lower the heat to No 3 and shake often. Once they begin to turn golden reduce heat to No 2. Any signs of scorching take off heat and allow to cool before continuing to cook.
- For the beetroot: if cooking raw beets simply nip off their leaves and set aside for the salad. Place the beets in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil on heat No 4, then simmer on heat No 2 until cooked (mine took about 45 minutes). Test by piercing with a fork. When cool enough to handle slice off the top and bottom, peel and discard those. Sit them on their base and slice along each side to leave you with a large cube (keeping those slices to add to the sautéed potatoes when they are cooked and fry the beets for several minutes before serving). Slice 3 or 4 times, turn those around and slice again into cubes. See photo below.
- Either pan-fry the bacon or grill/broil until the fat is nicely golden. Break into small pieces or crumbs, which are small pieces bashed until they’re very small, like breadcrumbs – this helps to disperse its flavour more evenly throughout the salad.
- For the vinaigrette: add equal measures of olive oil and the vinegar. Add a little lime juice and/or honey to taste. Stir thoroughly.
- For the salad: combine all ingredients when cooked.
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