Smoked mackerel velouté with warm smoked eel soldiers and lovage

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The rich, smoky, creamy velouté in this recipe is a knockout in itself, but when served with delicate little toast soldiers draped with slivers of smoked eel and a vibrant lovage mayonnaise, it becomes a perfect example of why Phil Howard's Elystan Street is such a beloved restaurant. You could buy ready-made smoked mackerel if you don't have a stovetop smoker at home, but ensure it is the very best quality to do the velouté justice.

First published in 2020





Lovage oil




Eel soldiers

  • 1 slice of smoked eel, 11cm in length, on the bone
  • 4 slices of bread, thin
  • 1/2 bunch of chives, finely chopped


Make the lovage oil the night before. Blend the lovage leaves in a powerful blender with the vegetable oil and a pinch of salt for a few minutes, until the oil is bright green and hot. Hang the oil in a sieve lined with muslin cloth set over a plastic bag in a bowl, so the aqueous component of the oily mix settles into the lowest corner
The next day, snip the corner off the bag and drain off the aqueous component. Transfer the green lovage oil to a fresh container and set aside in the fridge
To smoke the fish, score the two mackerel with deep cuts, to the bone, 4 or 5 times down each side. Rub the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper
Place the mackerel into a stovetop smoker set over a medium heat, then hot-smoke the fish until they are just cooked. The time will vary enormously depending on the smoker, fish size and heat but ultimately the fish need to be just cooked to the bone, no more, and the skin should have a smoky golden hue to it. Remove the fish from the smoker and set aside to cool
  • 50g of wood chips, for smoking
To make the stock, heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the sliced vegetables with a generous pinch of salt, the bay leaf, white peppercorns, fennel seeds and coriander seeds and sweat for 5 minutes. Cover with 500ml of water and cook for 30 minutes at a bare simmer
Remove from the heat, add a slice of lemon and set aside to cool. Once cooled, strain the stock, discarding the vegetables
To make the soup, sweat the onion and leek in the butter with a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid any colour on the vegetables. Add the mackerel (still on the bone) and cover with the strained stock and milk. Bring to the boil, add the crème fraîche and cook at a bare simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool
Lift out the mackerel and blend the rest of the contents of the pan to a smooth and velvety soup. Season carefully with salt, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Set aside to reheat before serving. The mackerel itself isn't used in this dish, but you could remove the fillets from the bone and use them to make a pâté for another dish if desired
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
To make the lovage mayonnaise, whisk the egg yolk with the mustard, vinegar and a good pinch of salt until thick and pale (about 1 minute.) Gradually pour in 100ml of the lovage oil whilst continuously whisking to emulsify (reserving a little of the lovage oil for drizzling later). If the mixture begins to split, add a splash of cold water to bring it back together. Taste and season
Place the smoked eel in a freezer until firm. Remove from the freezer and, while still on the bone, slice into thin slices, lengthways, on a meat slicer or with a razor-sharp knife – two slices per portion. Set aside in the fridge
  • 1 slice of smoked eel, 11cm in length, on the bone
When ready to serve, reheat the soup and whisk vigorously to aerate. Toast the bread until just golden, then trim each slice to 11cm long and 5cm wide
  • 4 slices of bread, thin
Spread each piece of toast with a fine film of lovage mayonnaise. Top with two overlapping slices of smoked eel and garnish with a little lemon zest, chopped chives and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch of chives, finely chopped
Serve the soup in 4 bowls and finish with a drizzle of lovage oil and lemon zest. Serve the smoked eel toasts alongside, with an additional spoonful of the lovage mayonnaise
First published in 2020

Phil Howard has always been a ‘chef’s chef’, quietly notching up years of service and influencing the industry immeasurably. After selling his iconic two Michelin-starred restaurant The Square to open Elystan Street in Chelsea, he has proved himself yet again to be one of the UK's brightest culinary talents.

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