The temperatures here in Portugal have been astronomical over the past few weeks and it really has been too hot to do anything. I have not cast a line into the sea for at least six weeks but some time ago a friend who had had a particularly good catch gave me about 5 kilo of fish consisting mainly of mackerel and Peixe Aranha.
Now Piexe Aranha (literal translation "Spider fish") is a relative of the Weever fish and like the weever it carries an array of spines on its dorsal fin that inject a toxin and can lead to a nasty sting requiring urgent medical attention.
Great care is required when handling this fish as the spines remain toxic long after the fish is dead and they are sharp and sturdy enough to penetrate the thickest of gloves and even shoes.
However, devoid of it's spines the flesh of Piexe Aranha is a perfectly acceptable substitute for the usual species that grace the average English fish and chip shop. Thus we were under no illusion what to do with that element of the catch.
The mackerel however presented a slightly different problem and I began casting around for recipes to use up the bounteous amounts of fish.
The one I liked best was a traditional Catalan recipe for Mackerel and Potato stew with a simple sauce of tomatoes, paprika and parsley. I made the recipe and we enjoyed a good lunch with some fresh crusty bread but the sauce for me was just a little too simple and I promised myself that next time I did the dish I would add some body and a little umph!
That next time arrived today and with the addition of onions, extra garlic and Piri-Piri sauce I transformed the Spanish middle-weight into a Portuguese heavyweight.
|Mackerel Potato and Piri-Piri stew.|
- 6 small mackerel (about half a kilo)
- 300g potatoes
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 large white onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1 large peeled tomato
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- half a teaspoon Piri-piri sauce
- 600ml fish stock
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon mayonaise
- Cut the head and tail off the fish.Cut down the belly of the fish and remove the insides and rinse under running water to remove any blood. (You can get your fishmonger to do this if you prefer)
- peel and cut the potatoes into 3cm cubes. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Finely chop the tomato.
- Put a large pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and onion. As soon as the garlic and onion begins to brown add most of the chopped parsley and the tomato. Cook this mixture for another five minutes or so then stir in the paprika. add the potatoes and stir until well coated with the garlic, onion , paprika and tomato mix.Pour in half the fish stock bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.
- Season the mackerel with sea salt and black pepper and add to the pan along with the remainder of the fish stock. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
- Mix the cornflour with a little cold water until smooth and stir into the pan.Stir carefully so the potato and mackerel do not break up.Add the Piri-piri sauce and cook gently for five more minutes or until the fish is opaque and parts easily from the backbone.
- Loosen the mayonnaise in a dish with a little of the sauce then add to the pan. Once again stir carefully to avoid breaking up the fish and potatoes but take care that the mayonnaise does not form unsightly lumps.
- Serve the stew in shallow bowls with fresh crusty bread and finish the dish by sprinkling with the remaining chopped parsley.