Smoked mackerel velouté with warm smoked eel soldiers and lovage

  • Starter
  • medium
  • 4
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, plus overnight straining time for the oil

PT1H30M

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Ingredients

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Imperial

Mackerel

Lovage oil

  • 100g of fresh lovage, leaves only
  • 150ml of vegetable oil
  • sea salt

Stock

Soup

  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 leek, sliced
  • 15g of unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 1 pinch of flaky sea salt
  • 500ml of whole milk
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 200ml of crème fraîche

Mayonnaise

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
1
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
  • 100g of fresh lovage, leaves only
  • 150ml of vegetable oil
  • sea salt
2
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
3
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
4
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
5
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
6
Remove from the heat, add a slice of lemon and set aside to cool. Once cooled, strain the stock, discarding the vegetables
7
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
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 leek, sliced
  • 15g of unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 1 pinch of flaky sea salt
  • 200ml of crème fraîche
  • 500ml of whole milk
8
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
9
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
10
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
11
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
12
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
13
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
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