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Clean favours here, a delightful main-course salad for a summer’s day. You could use other fish, such as red mullet, if you prefer but mackerel suits this treatment well, and the richness of its flesh goes well with the sweet beetroot and tart marinade. Some watercress, lush and deep green, would be good with this, and maybe a few slices of dark bread and butter.
Wash the beetroot and wrap them in foil, then bake at 200°C/Gas 6 for fifty minutes or so, till tender – or, if you prefer, boil them in deep, unsalted water for about thirty minutes, until knifepoint tender. Remove and discard their skins. Slice into thick rounds and set aside.
For the marinade, pour the vinegar and lemon juice into a stainless steel saucepan with 150ml water. Add the bay leaves. Scrub the carrot and slice it finely. Peel the onion and slice that similarly. Peel and squash the garlic and add it to the pan, together with the carrot and onion, sugar, coriander seeds and juniper berries. Bring the lot to the boil, then add a teaspoon of salt and the peppercorns. Pour in the olive oil and let the mixture simmer for a minute or two, until the onion has softened slightly. Turn off the heat.
Warm a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Season the fish fillets and lay them skin-side down in the oil. Let them colour, then turn them over. Lift them from the pan and place in a shallow dish.
Add the dill and beetroot to the marinade. Pour over the fish and leave to cool. Lift the fish on to plates and spoon over the vegetables and liquor.
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