Smoked Mackerel on Rye Toast

Smoked Mackerel Rye Toast

I’ll admit, I haven’t been cooking much lately – it’s restaurant week in Newcastle and we’ve been trying some of the City’s specially prepared set menus. It’s been great, but the waistline will only take so much.

So, I thought I’d post this dish I made last weekend. We actually had it for breakfast but it would make a great light lunch.

Mackerel has made the headlines in the UK recently, being reduced from a fish ‘suitable to eat’ by the Marine Conservation Society to one we should eat only occasionally. Shame as it’s a favourite of mine and very good for you. The jury is still out apparently though so let’s see what happens.

This is very simple but very tasty, if a bit decadent, using butter and a little single cream. The mackerel is grilled under a high heat and combined with scrambled egg, parsley and ¬†wholegrain mustard. It’s served up on some buttered hot rye bread toast. Heaven.

I used a take on the Heston Blumenthal ‘bain-marie’ method for cooking the eggs as it leaves them lovely and soft, but the regular pan method works too!

Serves 2

  • Two smoked mackerel fillets
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • About 2 tbsp single cream
  • 1 knob butter
  • 2 sliced of rye bread, toasted and buttered.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Tartare sauce to serve.

Remove the skin and grill the mackerel fillets under a high heat, skinned side down, until nicely coloured. About 5 minutes if the grill is preheated.

Turn the grill off and leave at the bottom until ready to use.

Next – make the scrambled egg. in a small pan, bring some water to a boil (or use some from a kettle). Add a heat proof bowl on top so it sits on top of the pan and melt in the butter. Whisk in four eggs thoroughly until an even colour. With the water boiling below, stir often; it takes a while but the eggs will eventually begin to scramble. The gentle heat allows you to get the consistency just right, and catch it before it starts to turn ‘rubbery’.

Whilst this is happening, get the toast under the grill.

Once ready (a cooked risotto-like consistency), remove the bowl from the heat.

Slice the mackerel fillets and add to the eggs along with the cream and mustard. Stir thoroughly. Season with the pepper and salt only if it’s needed (the mackerel should be salty enough). Finish with the parsley and serve up on the toast, with some tartare sauce if you like!

Smoked Mackerel and Egg on Rye Toast


Linguine with Peas Pancetta and Pangriata

It dawned on me today that despite it being my favourite cuisine out there, I’ve yet to post anything to do with Italian food. Mama mia…..

I think it may be to do with the fact that Italian food, particularly pasta, has become almost the ‘norm’ in this house and therefore I didn’t think it worthy of broadcasting to you all. A schoolboy error!

I love a good tomato sauce as much as the next frustrated chef, but I prefer pasta like this, simply but robustly flavoured. I’ve combined some pancetta cubes with sweet garden peas, chilli, lemon, fresh parsley and a background umami boost of anchovy fillets. You can leave the latter out of course as I admit they are a bit of a love me/hate me ingredient.

Pangriata is another example of the Italians making something delicious from something ordinary. Seemingly a replacement for the more expensive Parmesan (or is that an urban myth?), I prefer it in many ways for the crunchy texture. It can be tweaked and flavoured to suit the dish, but here I made it simply using a garlic infused oil and parsley. If you don’t have any, regular olive oil with finely chopped garlic and your choice of herbs is the default route for making this.

The recipes here is for two people, but can be easily multiplied up for more servings.

Serves 2. Prep and cooking time – 20 minutes.


  • 150g linguine
  • 2 tbsp cooking olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to finish)
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g diced pancetta (or lardons/chopped streak bacon)
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • small glass of white wine of white wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp flaked dried chilli
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Ground black pepper to serve if preferred.
  • Salt

For the pangriata (depending on how much you prefer)

  • 1- 2 handfuls of roughly chopped breadcrumbs
  • 1 – 2 tbsp Garlic infused rapeseed oil (or the same amount of oil fried with a finely chopped garlic clove)
  • Chopped parsley or thyme
  • sea salt


Get all the ingredients ready, including any chopping slicing or dicing you need to do.

Fill and boil the kettle.

I make the pangriata near the end, with a bit of multi-tasking, but if you prefer to do one thing at a time, make the pangriata first: simply fry off the breadcrumbs in the garlic oil, a good pinch of salt and some chopped parsley or thyme. It won’t take long to be golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside (preferably somewhere warm).

Next, add about a tbsp of salt to a large pot and pour over the freshly boiled water. Get the heat on until it starts to boil.

Put the peas in the pan and simmer until warmed through for no more than a minute or two, they’ll be cooked further later. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep to one side in a bowl. You can do this in a separate pan of course, but it saves on washing up!

Turn the heat up to get the water to a fast boil and add the pasta. It will take about 11 minutes so time to get moving with the rest.

In the same frying pan you made the pangriara, add 1 tsbp of regular olive oil (not the good stuff, it’s a waste as you won’t taste it) and fry the pancetta, flaked chilli and garlic briskly until well coloured – about 2 minutes – on a high heat. Add the anchovies and mix thoroughly, they will dissolve into the pancetta.

Add the white wine and peas and reduce for a minute or two.

Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to the sauce to loosen it up. Taste and add more seasoning if needed but it shouldn’t (pancetta and anchovies should be more than enough). Stir in the chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Check the pasta which should be pretty much ‘al dente’ by now and ready to go. Drain, reserving a little of the pasta water, and put back in the pan. Stir in the ‘sauce’ using tongs or a spaghetti spoon to mix thoroughly. Add a little more pasta water if too dry.

Plate it up in pasta bowls, drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and top with the pangriata.