Nature's Secret Larder - Lemon Pepper Mackerel


Bushcraft Blog

Lemon Pepper Mackerel
11th November 2008

For those of you who are completely new to wild food this may sound like a very different dish, but each component will remind you of other common flavours that regularly grace the pallet.

Mackerel is a very oily fish, which is not only good for you, but also offers a unique flavour, and if caught and cooked immediately this flavour is quite different to those that you may purchase from the local fishmonger.
Mackerel are quite easy to catch, and the best time would be on an early summer's evening. 

1) One line caught mackerel
2) Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsute)
3) Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella
4) Salt
5) Pepper
6) Olive oil
7) Butter
8) Red onion
9) Lemon

Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsute, sounds somewhat unappetising, but the latter part of the name ‘bittercress' is where the magical flavour springs from, and why the second part of the title of this recipe is ‘pepper'. Hairy Bittercress tastes very much like watercress, only sweeter.  It's found in just about every garden and waste place up and down the country, and the leaves can be used in just about every month of the year, which makes it an ideal wild food.

Wood Sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, is a pretty little plant, that is sometimes used by chefs for decoration only, but for our purposes this little shamrock of ancient woodlands provides a lemon- like kick which is an ideal accompaniment to fresh fish, especially mackerel as it cuts though the rich flavour.


Firstly slice the red onion thinly, place this into a bowl and add some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and a little salt. Leave to marinade whilst preparing the leaves.

Take a handful of Hairy Bittercress leaves, and several wood sorrel leaves (remove stalks). Place in a mixing bowl and add a touch of olive oil, and sprinkle of salt flakes and a twist of pepper. Now add the onions to this bowl and toss them lightly.

Heat up a griddle pan with just a light coating of olive oil. Place the mackerel in the pan whilst applying a little pressure to keep the fish flat. Cook for just a couple of minutes and then turn and cook for a further 2 minutes. For the last minute of cooking time add a small knob of butter to give the fish a golden colour and a nutty flavour.

Add the mixed salad onto the middle of plate and then place the mackerel on top.

I should point out that Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella contains oxalic acid, much like rhubarb, which should not be consumed in large quantities by those who suffer from arthritis, hyperacidity or those who are pregnant.

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