mackerel, rhubarb, oats

i’ve been watching (and enjoying) the tv series to accompany hugh fearnley-whittingstall’s latest book, three good things, the idea of the book is simple – a lot of great recipes have three ingredients at their heart. in the show three chefs each choose “two good things” to accompany the third, a shared ingredient. they then cook their dishes which are judged and at the end of the week, after 5 shows, a winner is crowned.

each week there is a theme and the fish dishes were some of my favourites. the winning mackerel dish was hugh’s mackerel with rhubarb and oatmeal.

super simple – mackerel fillets are dipped in oatmeal (i used rolled oats as they were all i had) and then fried in a little oil; this is accompanied by rhubarb which has been lightly poached with some sugar and thyme.

thoroughly delicious and well worth a try.

hugh’s mackerel, oatmeal, rhubarb (serves 2)

2 medium-thick rhubarb stems or 3–4 smaller, thinner ones (about 150g)

20g caster sugar

a pinch of thyme leaves (optional)

4 mackerel fillets from 2 medium fish

100g medium oatmeal

rapeseed or sunflower oil for frying

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

trim the rhubarb, then cut into 2–3cm pieces. place in a pan with the sugar, thyme leaves, if using, and 1 tablespoon water. partially cover with a lid and cook gently, at a bare simmer, for 5–7 minutes. don’t stir the rhubarb or it will lose its shape. when it is tender, remove the pan from the heat.

season the mackerel fillets all over with salt and pepper. spread out the oatmeal on a plate. coat the fillets on both sides, pressing the oatmeal on well and gently shaking off any loose bits. (for a decent coating, the mackerel should be ‘tacky’. if the oatmeal doesn’t stick, brush the fillets with just a little milk, and try again.)

heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. add the mackerel fillets, flesh side down, and cook for 3 minutes, until the oatmeal coating is crispy and golden brown. then carefully flip them over and cook for 2 minutes on the skin side, until cooked through. transfer the fish to warm plates and accompany with a spoonful of the warm rhubarb compote. serve with bread and/or a green salad.