Smoked Whole Mackerel w Fermented Radicchio & Eggplant Croquettes
This is a great dish to make when you are already using your smoker for something else, because it cooks very quickly. I was making Andouille, and picked this fish up for a group lunch.
Buying whole fish is much more economical than buying filets, and much less wasteful. Many markets will gut the animal for you in advance. Take the guts home for making seafood stock.
The Radicchio Ferment is on the bitter side, hence the sugaring of the fish.
For the fish:
1 whole mackerel, gutted and rinsed
1 whole lemon
2-3 T. capers
2 T. sugar
2 T. salt
2 T. butter
cracked black pepper
Using a boning knife, continue the slit in the belly of the fish all the way to its tail, so you can open the animal up. Sprinkle salt, sugar, and pepper over the inside of the body cavity. Allow to rest while you prepare the smoker.
In a small bowl, squeeze out the lemon’s juice, and mix it with the capers and the mayonnaise. Stir well. Slather the mayo mixture into the fish, and then slice the squeezed lemon roughly and put it into the fish, too. Close the fish up, wrap it very loosely in foil, and put it on the smoker. Warm smoke at 150-200F while you fry croquettes, but smoke it only until the meat flakes with a fork. It won’t take long.
For the Croquettes:
2 C. roasted eggplant (See note)
1-1/2 C panko, divided
¼ C. fresh lemon juice
3 T. chopped parsley or lovage
½ t. red pepper flake
1 t. salt
½ t. onion powder
3 T. butter
cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
3 T. all-purpose flour, plus some flour for breading
¾ C. wine or vegetable broth
Puree the eggplant in a small food processor. Transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, parsley or lovage, red pepper flake, salt, and onion powder. Combine thoroughly and set aside.
In a small cast iron skillet, melt the butter and sauté the garlic. When the garlic is golden and fragrant, stir in the 3T of flour, and whisk to combine it with the butter. Now, pour in the stock or wine, whisking as you pour, and continue whisking as the mixture thickens into a roux. Toast the roux for a moment, stirring all the while, and then fold it into the eggplant mixture. Add 1 C. of panko. Chill this mixture thoroughly.
When ready to fry the croquettes, heat 2 inches of sunflower oil in a deep cast iron skillet. As the oil heats, make 1.5 inch balls with the chilled croquette mixture, and dip them first in flour, then in the beaten egg, and then in panko. Fry until golden on all sides.
Note: To roast eggplant, prick it all over with a fork and bake it in a 375F oven for over an hour, until it is very soft. Cut open lengthwise and scoop out the filling.