Samphire, Asparagus & Mackerel Confit Linguini
Its a peppery dish, use the ground black devils generously - the heat works well with the white wine lemon ness and the heady flavours of the toasted fennel seeds.
This used to be a tuna confit dish i did, but after doing it with confit mackerel i doubt i will ever go to the expense of a rare fish when a much more abundant and equally tasty fish is available. Also, mackerel is often fresher than tuna as its so abundant in all waters and popular.
for 2 people, as a main course,
1/2 cup drained tuna Confit * as in from the recipe right here ;Tuna Slow Poached In Olive Oil And Fennel Seeds
which is equally great with mackerel, and far better for sustainability and your pocket too.
The process is the same, but you sub mackerel fillets (skin on but pin boned an cleaned) instead of tuna, and you cook it for far less; bring to below simmer point, and turn fire off, letting the residual heat cook the fish.
* if you dont have fresh tuna or mackerel and you have to do this, you could use a superb quality can of bonito, or vetresca in olive oil. But it really wont be nearly as good, so you d better wait and do it proper when you have one. Buy only line caught sustainable tuna no matter the quantity.
-8 stalks of asparagus. I use half of the thick asparagus species and half of the thin species. As long as the thickness of your slices is the same its prettty much ok to cook both ensemble.
-lots of ground black pepper
-a good pinch or two of fennel seeds
-2 cloves of garlic preferably wet / spring garlic, otherwise the usual dry galric will work too. Sliced fine.
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-fleur de sel, optional.
-2 generous pinches of fennel seeds Essential.
- linguini, or good spaghetti (and not too much of it, you want a hearty oily lemony dish, and you dont want the pasta to soak up all the juices from the asparagus / samphire.)
-splash of dry white wine.
-handful of samphire if you can get it.
1-Boil your pasta, very al dente.
shock under running cold water 1-2 mins before its ready; drizzle some oil to keep and shuffle with your hand. While pasta is boiling;
2-Shave / slice the asparagus in thin, 2mm -ish slices. clean the samphire religiously, and cut off any tough stalks. You can also just slice them very thinly with a knife.
Boil samphire in a little water for 4 mins adding the asparagus the last minute. Drain.
When your pasta is done, and you re ready to eat;
Heat a frying pan, without any oil, add first the fennel seeds garlic and pepper. toss and wait till the seeds smell strong toasty but not burnt, then turn fire down a tad and carefully add oil, and the asparagus (and the samphire if you have it) .
Cook for about a min. Splash some white wine, stir stir stir and add the pasta - with a 1/3 cup of its water.
4- Add some lemon, then take off the heat and add the mackerel / tuna to heat through.
Season with fleur de sel and extra lemo & pepper. If you have fennel fronds or wild fennel add some, its quite fine without them too.
Fresh home made breadcrumbs work a treat on top of this.