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Soused Mackerel and Cockles

Soused Islay Mackerel
I recently spent a fantastic 3 days on Islay, Scotland, courtesy of  Bruichladdich (www.bruichladdich.com)  & Botanist Gin (www.thebotanist.com), as part of their International Foragers Summit.

This gathering of brought foragers from afar including; South Africa, Germany, US & the UK. We foraged, explored, drank, laughed, cooked, ate, discussed, felt and sensed this beautiful isle as much as we could in the time allocated - we did pretty well too :) Here's my Islay version of soused mackerel & Cockles - the fish was caught by all literally hours before being prepped, the cockles foraged the previous day by Mark, John & Ellen and the dish (as with everthing else that week) was shared by all that evening as we socialised and drank.

Ingredients:
Fresh Mackerel (filleted/de-boned)
Fresh Cockles (cooked/shells removed), 5 mins in a hot pan will cook them.
Pickling Liquor:
Apple Cider Vinegar,
Onion,
Sweet Cicely,
Ground Ivy,
Carrageen,
Elderflower,
Lemon Peel,
Alexander Seed,
Peppercorns,
Wild Garlic Seed,
 Honey,
Sugar,
Salt

Method:
1) Lay the Mackerel fillets skin-side up in a flat bottomed vessel/bowl & add the cockles.

2) Place the pickling liquor  ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring to ensure honey/sugar dissolves. Once brought to boil, remove from heat and allow to cool and infuse.

3) Once cooled, bring back to required temperature (60/70/80/90/100 degrees. This range of temperatures will provide different results, if unsure opt for boiling and tweak next time) and pour over the Mackerel, leave to cool. Once cooled serve.

These were served with bread/butter/oatcakes and de-hydrated Oyster Thief (courtesy of Mark Williams). Great as a social, mid-drinks evening snack, or however you prefer :) Sousing is basically a quick hot pickling technique, the fish should be partially not fully cooked by the heat of the liquor and there are a variety of ways of flavouring the pickling liquor.

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