March 9th, 2009


Flame-Grilled Mackerel with Smoked Eel and Shiso

When Brett Graham invited me to visit him at the Ledbury in Notting Hill to share one of his signature dishes , I was truly honoured and incredibly excited.

Brett cooked for me his famous Flamed-Grilled Mackerel with smoked Eel and Shiso. It’s delicious and a beautiful dish with lots of delicious components.

Brett talks with passion about game, his most favourite seasonal ingredient. He told me about his recent hunting experiences. Brett bakes the best end of roe dear in hay and serves it with root vegetables, parsley and chervil roots. It sounds delicious as he describes to me the smokey flavour of the best end, my mouth starts to water, as I can only imagine how delicious this dish must be.
I enjoyed talking food with Brett, I can see in his eyes that he is a food fanatic and lives for his career. Well one should not expect it to be any different as Brett holds one Michelin star with a rising two star at the Ledbury for outstanding food.

brettWe continued talking about Brett’s favourite ingredients and I asked him to tell me what is his all time favourite kitchen gadgets. Well I burst out in laughter as he answered-the spoon. I felt all embarrassed as I thought about this answer on my way back home. Brett is right; without a spoon there is not much that we can do in the kitchen. This answer demonstrated Brett’s true, honest and no nonsense approach to cooking. Brett does not need some mechanical elaborately expensive equipment to make him the brilliant chef that he is. Now that was humbling and food for thought!

As if Brett is not busy enough he found a few spare hours in his day to join in collaboration with Mike Robinson and Edwin Vaux to set up a pub in Fulham, The Hardwood Arms. This pub has received fantastic reviews and is said to be one of Fulham’s finest.


Shiso Vinegar Vinaigrette
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 100ml mirin
  • 375ml shiso vinegar
  • 500ml rapeseed oil
  • 1 head of garlic

In a medium size saucepan gently heat the soy sauce, mirin and shiso vinegar over low heat.

Cut the head of garlic in half and add the garlic to the warm infusion.

Remove the infusion from the heat and set aside for 2 hours to infuse.

Pass the infusion through a fine sieve, add the rapeseed oil and whisk vigorously to emulsify.

Flame-Grilled Mackerel
  • 4 fresh Cornish mackerel fillets
  • 2tbs plain flour
  • freshly cracked pepper and course sea salt
  • Shiso vinegar vinaigrette

Remove the pin bones and scales form the mackerel, and wash the mackerel under cold running water. Drain the fillets on kitchen paper.

Mix the flour, salt and pepper.

Ensure that the mackerel is dry, lightly season the mackerel fillets with the seasoned flour.

Heat a non-stick frying pan with sunflower oil, place the mackerel fillets( skin side down) into the hot oil, increase the heat and gently cook the mackerel until the skin becomes crispy.

Remove the mackerel from the pan and place the fillets( skin side down) onto a wire rack.

Gently cook the mackerel( skin side down) over open flame, until the skin starts to blister.

Place the mackerel fillets in a small tray, baste the mackerel with the shiso vinegar dressing until the mackerel starts to become translucent.

Set aside to infuse while dressing the plate.

Cucumber transparent sheets
  • 1L cucumber juice
  • 12g agar agar powder

Mix the cucumber juice and agar agar powder.

Heat the emulsion in a medium sauce pan, bring to the boil.

As soon as the mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat and pour on to a flat clean tray to the thickness required.

Let the sheets set, do not move or cover with clingfilm as any movement at this stage will prevent the sheets from setting.

Smoked Eel and Cucumber rolls
  • 120g smoked eel
  • 2tbs crispy fried shallots
  • 1tbs Crème fraîche
  • 2tsp chopped chives
  • 2tsp freshly grated horseradish
  • 1tbs milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cucumber transparent sheets

In a medium bowl mix the Crème fraîche and milk.

Fold in the chives, horseradish, drained crispy fried shallots and seasoning to taste.

Remove the skin and remaining bones from the eel and flake.

Fold the flaked eel in to the Crème fraîche mixture.

Cut the cucumber transparent sheets in to 4 even size squares, spoon 50g of the smoked eel mix on to each square and gently roll them up in to cigar shapes.

Assembling the dish
  • 4 smoked eel and cucumber rolls
  • 4 flame grilled mackerel fillets in shiso vinegar vinaigrette
  • 4tbs small diced cucumber
  • 4tbs Jerusalem artichoke puree
  • 4tsp crispy croutons cooked in olive oil
  • 1tsp ground nori
  • 1tbs seaweed mustard
  • selection of washed and trimmed mixed cress including shiso and coriander cress

brett_mackerel2Start each plate by arranging the mixed cress in a cordon on the outside, with the crispy croutons, ground noiri and diced cucumber.

Draw a line of the seaweed mustard down the centre of the plate.

Spoon the Jerusalem artichoke puree on one side of the plate, add more diced cucumber and place the mackerel fillet on top of the puree. Place the smoked eel and cucumber roll on the opposite side of the mackerel.

Finish the dish with a drizzle of the shiso vinegar vinaigrette.

Makes 4

Brett's Food Fanatic Tip

Brett's favourite flavour combinations for this season are pumpkin and mandarin.

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One Comment to “Flame-Grilled Mackerel with Smoked Eel and Shiso”

  1. Lizzie says:

    I had this at The Ledbury too, and visited the kitchen after the meal – he spoke of this dish with such passion. It would be awesome to re-create but it looks daunting….!

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