Thursday, 14 January 2010

Smoked Mackerel and Chickpea Salad with Crunchy Chilli Breadcrumbs

A lovely mingling of textures and punchy flavours.
A big nutritional boost and long-lasting energy is what this salad delivers, but please don't be put off by just how good it is for you.

Flavour-wise, it's the equivalent of a a cluster bomb exploding on your palate.

Fortunately for me, I got to eat all of it (although not at one sitting, I hasten to add).

I adore all kinds of preserved fish, especially anchovies, smoked peppered mackerel, smoked salmon, kippers and Cape-Malay-style pickled fish. Perhaps this is because my grandmother was Norwegian.

Every time I try to introduce these delicacies to our family menu, there is an outcry and a holding of nostrils, closely followed by a wild outward stampede. 'Eeeeeu! Naaasty!' cry the teens. 'Gross!' wails my daughter. 'Not quite my thing,' says my husband, diplomatically.

I just can't understand their aversion. What could be more delicious than a sliver of salty anchovy, furred with fine bones, eaten straight out of its bottle, with the juice trickling down your chin? Or mashed into a stew to add a particular warm savouriness? Or how about those silken white Italian anchovies that occasionally show up in Woolworths and other food stores?

If you don't like smoked mackerel, use tinned-in-oil tuna, or seared fresh tuna. 

No, on second thoughts, make this with the mackerel, or don't make it at all.

Very fresh, aromatic powdered cumin and excellent paprika make all the difference to the dressing.

The crisped breadcrumbs strewn on the top of this salad are a pure indulgence. Leave them out if you are feeling virtuous.

Smoked Mackerel and Chickpea Salad with Crunchy Chilli Breadcrumbs

For the topping: 
3 slices of white bread
1 tsp (5 ml) cayenne pepper, or fine red chilli-pepper flakes
a pinch of salt

For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
juice of 2 lemons
100 ml olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) powdered cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) good-quality paprika
1 tsp  (5 ml)  hot English mustard
salt and milled black pepper

For the salad:
2 tins of chickpeas, drained
4 10-cm-long stalks of young celery, sliced
6 purple spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup (250 ml) chopped fresh coriander
2 fillets of smoked, peppered mackerel

First prepare the breadcrumb topping.  Heat the oil in a frying pan. Tear the bread slices into little tatters and fry them in the hot oil for a minute or so, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a piece of newspaper or kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt  and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Now make the dressing.  Put all the ingredients in a little bowl and whisk well to combine. Finally, make the salad: put the chickpeas, celery, spring onions and chopped coriander into a mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over these ingredients and toss well to combine. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Tip the salad into a big serving platter. Take the skin off the skin of the mackerel fillets and remove any fine bones. Pull the flesh into flakes and scatter them over the top of the salad. Roughly crumble the fried bread bits over the salad.

Sprinkle with a little more paprika and olive oil and serve.

Serves 1.  Only joking.  Serves 4. 
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Nina Timm said...

There is no way I leave the chilli breadcrumbs out......this salad look outrageously good!!!

Maz said...

Thank you so much for a great supper!(it may just have to to be lunch for 1) Yum yum! I have just raided the storecupboard and the fridge. Miraculously I have the ingredients.

I usually am quite boring with my mackerel and simply have it on a crusty roll with rocket, tomato and smattering of salt and pepper.

Juno said...

Thanks Nina. Maz, you are very welcome and I hope it tasted good.

small home said...

This is my first time to learn that breadcrumbs can also be an ingredient for a salad!

Rose&Thorn said...

I have 2 fresh mackerel in the freezer, which I want to smoke, and this salad is exactly where it's going to end up. I also have the joy of knowing I'll get to eat it all by myself too - I live with a group of meat eating, white bread, nothing healthy must come near me, men!

Jeanne @ Cooksister! said...

There are people who don't like smoked mackerel??! Surely you jest... ;-) We permanently have a pack in the freezer, in case the craving strikes unexpectedly. Combined with chickpeas and those awesome breadcrumbs - we have a winner! Bookmarked for the weekend.