Beautiful, fresh, succulent artichokes are in season now, and popping up at greengrocers and supermarkets, in all their nobbly stalky glory. British mackerel is also an ideal springtime fish – and you should see the local catch popping up at your fishmonger from April onwards. This dish is Ayurvedically wonderful too, as it uses freshwater fish and blood-purifying artichokes, to create a nourishing and balancing meal that’s also filled with spring’s ‘prana’ or life energy in the form of vibrant, crisp spring leaves – rocket, coriander, basil, mint, watercress and pea-shoots – choose your favourites!
2 Globe artichokes
2 Mackerel fillets, deboned, skin on (buy the whole fish from the fishmonger, and get him to fillet into two pieces, and debone for you)
2 spring onions
Spring Leaves – we favour mint, coriander and rocket in this recipe
Finely chopped coriander and mint for the mackerel
1. Start by washing the artichokes under cold water. You then need to cut off the top and bottom – at the bottom, chop off the stem, and at the top chop through the ends of all the leaves and the spiky, furry bits. An inch on each side should do the trick.
2. Marinate the mackerel fillets in a mixture of olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and finely chopped coriander and mint. Add a small dash of organic cider vinegar, to help penetrate the flavours, and leave for a few minutes. You do not want overly marinated or stewed fish – this is about spring’s freshness after all.
3. Place in a pan or steamer, and cover up to halfway with water. Add a pinch of sea salt, a squeeze of lime or lemon juice, and some black peppercorns. Steam or boil, for 45 minutes to an hour (for larger chokes) with the lid on tightly. When they’re done, the outer leaves will yield and come away easily when pulled.
4. Place the two mackerel fillets skin side down, in a hot pan, and cook for 4 minutes on one side. Turn and cook for 4 minutes on the other, until flesh comes away easily from the fillet, and is light brown all the way through (no longer pink).
3. Peel away a good amount of the outer leaves (which will be soft and fleshy at the end, and great dipped into things like garlic aioli or coriander-spiked hummus). Toast your bread at this point. Then once you reach the soft inner leaves, closest to the heart, spoon off the fuzzy furry tops (which feel soft and pate-like) and discard. You can then cut the heart up into equal segments (this is the part that comes in the jars that you buy at the supermarket).
4. Toast two pieces of bread (we favour spelt sourdough for ease of digestion), and then layer the artichoke, mackerel pieces and leaves over the bread. Drizzle generously with olive oil, lime juice, and ground black peppercorns, and then find a sunny spot, and enjoy.
The Body Balance Diet Plan, by Eminé Ali Rushton, is released on April 16th. www.balanceplan.co.uk