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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Smoked mackerel - a golden dish - fit for kings

Whilst on a working break in Leiden in the Netherlands I enjoyed a variety of simple foods with so little accompaniment that you had the pleasure of just concentrating on the basic textures and tastes of the item itself.

Amongst some good friends and a few gin chasers to go with the light Dutch beers I took great pleasure at being given the honour to pull apart a delicious smoked mackerel from the fish market situated on a fair proportion of the Nieuwe Rijn and the Botermarkt. The fish market has other days of existence but shows itself off to its glistening best on a busy Saturday. The market day lasts from 8am to 5pm. Even the paving slabs on which the stands are placed are fashioned so as not to retain the aroma of fish. Try telling that to the local seagulls or people enjoying a beer or other beverage in the canal side cafes.

"Is that fresh fish I can smell?"

The golden coloured smoked mackerel was purchased at this very market and cost about €4.It provided a tasty pile of smoked fish that fed three hungry men with simple bread and butter.

Mackerel's oil rich flesh lends itself to hot smoking. Generally smoked mackerel is available in Europe dyed and un-dyed and as fillets, encrusted in pepper and other toppings. Smoked mackerel woks well with a spicy relish or combined with creamed horseradish. The skin of smoked mackerel peels away very easily.

The stalls on the Nieuwe Rijn canal basin offered other smoked items such as firm and rubbery smoked eels, unctuous smoked trout, smoked oysters (good for use in beef and smoked oyster pie), smoked mussels, cold smoked kippers, halibut and  swordfish and hot smoked sprats.

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