Fishy Business

The flu has got me good. By today, the 6th day of illness, I’m getting hungry again. Leafing through a book a friend got me a few years ago, Amy Willcock’s Cooking for One, I stumbled on lots of nice recipes that sound like the perfect comfort food for little old lonely me (this is the flu talking, don’t listen).


I found three recipes that overlapped in terms of ingredients, and here’s the first one on my list: Smoked mackerel in Pernod and crème fraîche sauce (with mashed potatoes). The project of emptying the bar cabinet of weird stuff goes onward: Ancient Pernod finally in use!

This is what I started with:


Now, we don’t have fish like that in Finland, or not easily available at least. But I found smoked mackerel at the fish counter and went with that. Mackerel is cheap and full of good fats. Lots of bones, though. Be careful with those.


I put some oil and butter in a pan. Chopped a shallot and tossed it in. I took half of the smoked mackerel and took it apart by hand, deboning it, and tossing the fish bits in the pan. Splashed the Pernod and let it cook for a few minutes. Then added a generous amount of crème fraîche and stirred. Salt wasn’t really necessary, since the smoked mackerel is salty in itself. Pepper and some chopped fennel top went in, though.


As all this was going on, I had peeled and diced three large potatoes and had them boiling away. Once they were soft, I drained them, added salt and a knob of butter and some milk, and mashed them. I took a bunch of fresh parsley and roughly chopped it, and then stirred it in with the mash.


The fish sauce is oily in a good way, the hint of aniseed that comes from both the Pernod and the fennel top adds a touch of class, and having the sauce with mashed potatoes makes it proper comfort food. You could have the fish sauce with rye bread, as the original recipe suggests, or even use it as a filling for baked potatoes. Change the fish and you end up with a whole different, erm, kettle of… yeah. Stay tuned for the other Amy Willcock recipes in the pipeline.




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