IT’S fair to say that at this time on the culinary calendar we chefs go a little bit potty over the wonderful herbaceous perennial that is rhubarb.

It first appears in Ancient Greek times when Dioscurides stuck a stalk in a poke of sugar, it then reached medieval Europe via the Silk Road where it was several times the price of other valuable herbs and spices such as cinnamon, opium and saffron.

In the UK, the first ‘forced’ rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in forcing sheds – where all other light is excluded – a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk; these sheds are dotted around the noted “Rhubarb Triangle” of Yorkshire. My granny used to grow it under a bin in the back garden and would transform it into rhubarb and stem ginger jam, crumbles and pies.

Look for young, tender, bright pink stalks for best flavour.

When I first came across this recipe I thought No… rhubarb! Mackerel! Never! but believe me it really works, the acidic fruit counteracts the richness of the fish perfectly. So if you are looking for a simple tasty treat with a twist give it a bash.


Serves 2

For the rhubarb:

200g rhubarb

2 tbsp caster sugar

For the mackerel:

4 fresh mackerel fillets

a little plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper

olive oil

a small sprig of rosemary chopped

balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cut the rhubarb

into 2 inch pieces and put

in a baking dish with the sugar.

Bake until just soft about 20 minutes. Allow to cool, then drain, reserving the cooking juices.

For the mackerel, dredge the mackerel fillets in seasoned flour and head a little oil in a large, non-stick frying pan.

Gently place the mackerel fillets in the hot pan, skin-side down, add the rosemary and press the fish down with a spatula to stop it curling.

As the underside of the fish starts to crisp lightly, carefully turn over and cook the other side, three minutes on each side.

Lift the mackerel fillets out on to warm plates.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the hot pan and add the cooked rhubarb and the rhubarb juices.

Warm the rhubarb through in the pan and spoon over the mackerel. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes and crunchy salad.