You never know when inspiration for a recipe will strike. Driving back from work the other night I saw a billboard for Mcdonalds. On it was a picture of their fillet o’ fish burger and in a moment of weakness I had a massive craving for one.
Ever since I saw Morgan Spurlock’s super size me I rarely eat at the golden arches. Thats not to say I don’t eat fast food, I do. I’m no food snob and like a lot of chefs can be really lazy when it comes to cooking at home. Believe me, after working in a hot kitchen all night cooking for others, the last thing you want to do is cook for yourself. So I’ve been known to enjoy the odd burger and am a big fan of the coernals.
Unfortunately a trip to Mac D’s would mean a 20 minute detour so I decided to go home and make a sandwich.
But fish burgers were still on my mind, so I’ve decided to do my own version of the fillea o’ fish.
I wanted it to taste great and be healthy too. My first thought was to use tuna as the “ meat” to go in the bun, but it’s expensive and can be hard to get a hold of. My next idea was salmon, but maybe you guys would find it a bit boring.
I finally decided to go with mackerel. It’s cheap, plentiful and tastes great. As if that wasn’t enough it’s packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, so good for you too.
A word of warning on mackerel. It’s gotta be really fresh. For some reason it seems to spoil more rapidly than other types of fish. Something to do with the high fat content I’ve been told. Luckily a mackerel that’s past its best is dead easy to spot. An oily smell, limp flesh and a fading of its distinctive black and silver stripes are a dead give away.
If you’re ever buying the fish whole and not fillets, theres a cool test you can use to see how fresh it is. Hold the fish out horizontally by the tail, and if the head starts to drop than you know its more than a day old.
To make the mackerel patty just puree up the flesh finely with your chefs knife. Don’t be tempted to use a food processor, you don’t want to turn it into a mousse. In fact, if you had a mixer with one of those mincing attachments, it would be the ideal gadget to use here. You want the texture of the mackerel to be the same as any other meat you’d use to make burgers.
You don’t need to add anything else to the fish to bind it together. The natural oils do that job, no eggs or bread crumbs needed. I’d be the first to admit it doesn’t look very appetizing at this stage.
Using mackerel and beetroot together is one of those classic marriages. Two ingredients that complement each other, like tomatoes and basil or chocolate and orange.
For this recipe I didn’t bother to cook the beetroot and just got some of the vacuum packed stuff from the market. It tastes just as good as what you’d cook at home. Just be sure that what you get isn’t packed in vinegar.
As if the mackerel wasn’t healthy enough, beetroot is also good for you too. packed with calcium, iron, vitamin c and folic acid…I might have created the healthiest burger ever.
If there’s one drawback to working with beetroot its that it stains everything. Your hands, knife, chopping board. So slip on some rubber gloves and cover your chopping board with a couple of layers of cling film before you slice it. This should save you a bit of time on clean up later.
After I made this recipe a couple of times my kitchen looked like i’d murdered somebody. I had beetroot juice on the fridge door, various counter tops, the floor and the cooker hood (not sure how it got up there!)
Thats the problem when I cook at home, theres nobody around to clean up after me….
Grate the beetroot and slice the red onion finely. Add the mayonnaise and mix everything together to make the slaw.
Remove the skin and pin bones from the the fish (you could ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
cut the mackerel into a fine dice. At this stage you have to run your knife through the flesh chopping vigorously till it begins to look like a puree.
Now you should be able to mould it into patties about 4 inches in diameter and a half inch thick.
Put your burgers in the fridge to set for about 1 hour ( you could do this the day before)
Next cut the bottom stalk of the little jem and separate the leaves before you give them a quick wash and dry.
Wash and slice the tomatoes
Heat the olive oil in a non stick pan and lightly season the burgers . Cook your burgers for 2/3 minutes on each side on a non stick pan till golden brown. Remove from the heat and drain them on some kitchen towels
Now you can assemble the burger.
After you’ve made the burgers, wrap them in cling film and rest for a couple of hours in the fridge before you cook them