Mackerel, Beetroot and Samphire

I am at a loose end. It's not nice to admit having almost nothing to do with my time when other people are working themselves into a frenzy over exams and other work, but it's true. To be completely honest, there is some work I should be doing but I am just in that holiday mood already. I can't, can't, can't wait for summer to come. The weather here has been quite accommodating, even though it is still a little cold and windy, the sun is out most of the time. Almost summer, but not quite, it is actually pretty good spring weather.

Having the sun out allows us to eat in a more... continental way. Less stodge and less meat, more fish and vegetables. So in what I'm hoping is a good example of seasonality (spring rather than summer), we had some mackerel and various sides. I know people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall etc. have been telling us this for a long time now, but it is incredible how much cheaper you can get fish like mackerel, sardine or herring for than salmon and haddock. I think we paid maybe two pounds or cheaper for two whole mackerel, which fed us really well.

What is better with fish than samphire? I mean, it tastes of the sea completely. This was the first time I had it properly, and if you just taste a few bits raw, it actually is like sea water in a plant. I remembered seeing in the Ottolenghi cookbook, which is just perfect in every way, a recipe for asparagus with samphire. It does make sense looking at them, they seem like they would be cousins. 

Although I was a little doubtful how well they would go with each other, once they were quickly steamed and tossed in some butter, lemon and salt, they were beautiful together. In the ways that the asparagus is sweet and mellow, samphire is its salty and stringent counterpart. And how much more spring can you get that all that green? But wait, how about we put some radishes and new potatoes on that plate? BAM SPRING UP IN YOUR FACE.

Maybe this was overkill, but I was so excited to see my newfound love at the shop: beetroot, of course! And oh, new wonders to behold, roasting them in honey and balsamic vinegar was a good decision.

They take on an entirely new texture, and become kind of sticky and caramel-y all by themselves. Seriously, try it. It's delicious. And sweet and sour is the flavour combination that gods created, I swear, so you can't go wrong with sweet and sour roast beetroot.

So, the beetroot was peeled and sliced into chunks, dressed with olive oil, salt, honey and balsamic vinegar. I think I put them in the oven for around 45 mins to an hour at 200°c. The potatoes were boiled whole for around 15 minutes, just until they were cooked. Then radishes were thinly sliced, added to the potato pot, where they were dressed with creme fraiche, a squirt of lemon, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. I put the asparagus in my steamer for about 2 minutes, then added the samphire, steamed them both for another 2 mins, took them out and dressed them with butter and lemon. After scoring the mackerel on both sides, I just drizzled olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper, rubbed them in, then put the fish under the grill for 10 to 15 minutes. AND this was the scrummy result: