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Mackerel & Seaweed Pate w/ Wild Seeds: Oven Baked In Burdock Leaf w/ Grass, Elderflower and Primrose Mead

I love Mackerel! It's a much under-rated fish except by those who have sampled its excellent
culinary qualities. Mackerel are members of the tuna family and are always present in UK waters. Summer is the best time to fish for these oceanic beauties when they congregate in great shoals lured closer to shore by the warmer waters. They are tastiest when freshly caught - I find they don't respond well to long term storage - and given how easy they are to catch, you'd be crazy to miss out on the fun and fine feasting they offer. Mackerel will eat just about any bait you offer them and you only need 1 large or 2 small fish per person to satisfy appetites.
It's very easy to get carried away when fishing for them due to their ravenous appetites, so adhering to a strict mindful, ethical code of practice is essential - I've caught a full-house on many an occasion and quite often after my first cast: a full-house is when you are using mackerel feathers as bait, these feathers are attached to hooks and positioned at regular intervals down a main section of fishing line, they generally come in quantities of 3, 4, 5, 6 and even 7 hooks. They're also a very versatile fish and can be cooked and included in a wide variety of cooking and eating styles; bbq'd, oven baked, pickled, salt cured, smoked and air-dried to make mackerel katsuboshi, fermented to make fish sauce aka garum and of course they can be eaten raw, a pretty impressive list. Aesthetically, they are beautiful, with irridescent hues of metallic, shimmering, blues, silvers, greys & greens in a tiger-stripe fashion. I have quite a few recipes on my website involving mackerel, including this one but the cooking technique for this one is a bit more wild in it's resources.

Mackerel, Wild Seed & Seaweed Pate: Oven Baked in Burdock, Grass, Elderflower, with Scots Lovage Seed, Fennel Seed, Sea Arrowgrass & Primrose Mead.

I collected 6 differing sized burdock leaves, a good handful of wild grass, fresh elderflowers and used some sea arrowgrass that I picked up while in Cumbria earlier in the week; sea arrowgrass is similar in flavour/fragrance to coriander, with hints of lemon grass and green grasses.
I washed the burdock leaves and fitted them in a deep metal roasting tin, laid dampened grass on top, followed by fresh elderflower sprays, I placed the cleaned/gutted mackerel on top, scoring the sides of the fish and filled those with sections of sea arrowgrass, I also filled the belly cavity with crushed sea arrowgrass and fresh elderflowers. I poured on some primrose mead, scattered some wild scots lovage & fennel on top and then covered the fish with the same herbs but in reverse, enclosing it all with the remaining burdock leaves. I popped it into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C & baked them for approx 30 minutes.

Once cooled I picked all the flesh from the bones, put that into a mixing bowl, added creme fraiche,
lemon juice, fresh grated horseradish root, powdered sea lettuce & gutweed, a powdered wild seed mix containing, alexander/fennel/scots lovage seed w/ fresh black peppercorns & sea salt, mixed it all thoroughly together, spooned it into a bowl and covered the lot with melted butter. I'll keep refrigerated for the next couple of days to allow the flavours to infuse & develop & then take to my coastal course at Bamburgh this coming Saturday. I'll be serving the pate with some seaweed & nettle seed crackers.

Here is another recipe for Mackerel & Seaweed Pate which contains more commercially obtainable ingredients especially regarding the spice flavourings. It tastes great and I've taken this on my coastal courses on many an occasion:

Mackerel 500g (Mugwort & Rosemary)
Sea Lettuce
Butter 50g Unsalted
Creme Fraiche approx 4tbsp
Lemon Juice
Ground Mace
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper

1) Clean the mackerel & foil bake in the oven with mugwort & rosemary, for approx 15 minutes, remove & leave to cool. Once cool remove the flesh from the bones & place in a large mixing bowl.

2) In a pan, add the butter, two very finely chopped cloves of garlic, a pinch of mace, cayenne pepper & fresh ground black pepper - this infuses the butter with flavour while softening the garlic. After 3-4 minutes remove from the heat and pour onto the mackerel, mix well.

3) Add the creme fraiche, lemon juice, powdered seaweed & mix thorougly (add a little salt and tweak with the other spices until you find the flavour you require) with the mackerel.

4) Once satisfied with the taste & consistency put the pate into ramekins, or dishes if you so fancy. If storing in the fridge for a couple of days (flavours will develop better if you do), melt some more butter in pan and pour it over the surface of the pate. Leave to cool & pop in the fridge.

I shared my pate with a lovely group of pirates that attended one of my coastal forging events, it was served with  Seaweed & Cow Parsley Seed Crackers.


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