JP McMahon: Fatty fish and autumn fruit make a perfect match
Mackerel, tuna, and trout all work with blackberries and I urge you to try them
As well as making jam, or apple and blackberry pie, blackberries also pair well with fish. Photograph: iStock
Summer’s end is autumn’s beginning, and while the children are safe from school for another couple of weeks, August marks the start of a hazy season, full of mushrooms and fruit.
Saying that, due to the recent good weather, the fruit came early. Though I’ve yet to see a plump blackberry, well-rounded, juicy and ample. When I think of blackberries, jam, of course, springs to mind, as do pies and cakes. As does Seamus Heaney’s poem, which told of our relationship with this dark fruit.
As well as making jam , or apple and blackberry pie (Darina Allen has a wonderful recipe), blackberries also pair well with fish. Blackberry glazed salmon or mackerel is probably a good place to start. Stew the blackberries in a little apple syrup and apple balsamic vinegar and then glaze the salmon fillet before baking in a 200ºC oven. Don’t overcook the salmon (as many of us do). Buy a meat thermometer and take it out when it hits 50 degrees. Allow the salmon to rest for a few minutes before serving it, seasoning with some flaky sea salt and a little extra virgin oil.
A natural alliance
The Japanese seem to have embraced the combination of fruit and fish far better that we have in Europe. Fatty fish and autumn fruit seems to forge a natural alliance: mackerel, tuna, and trout all work with blackberries and I urge you to try them.
Recently, I paired strawberries and lobster in a seaweed broth inspired by a dish by Kristian Baumann, head chef at 108 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Going one further, I tried strawberries and oysters, realising it was far more pleasant than bizarre. The trick is to balance the flavours. By charring the strawberries and seasoning them with rapeseed oil and sea salt, their muted sweetness complemented the poached lobster.
The most important thing is to have fun and experiment. Flavour may be deeply subjective but there are many objective correlates when is comes to food. Just because it hasn’t been tried before, doesn’t mean it won’t work.