Day 39: Mackerel with Spinach & Tomato Chilli Jam

Day 39: Mackerel with Spinach & Tomato Chilli Jam

inspired by The Eagle

I seem to be writing posts about restaurants named after birds at the moment. After yesterdays post about Sparrow, now onto The Eagle.

Opened in 1991, The Eagle is believed to be the birth place of the gastro pub. Extortionate restaurant rents and more flexible leases available on pubs meant Michael Belben and David Eyre took on The Eagle and started serving food.

The rest, as they say, is history.

They don’t have a menu. Dishes are written up on the chalk board and change throughout the day and things sell out. So in order for me to find a dish to make I had to go back through their instagram photos.

The Eagle menu board on the 29th February

This is what I was looking for. Because I have some whole mackerel. Fresh from Cornwall!

To continue supporting small businesses during this pandemic I looked to Cornish fishermen. I have already said that I wanted to eat more British fish. Many fishermen are finding that the demand for their catch has dropped since restaurants closed.

I found Fresh Cornish Fish as James Martin was praising them on Twitter. This local fishmonger in Newlyn buys fish straight off the Cornish day boats. He prepares it how you want and then sends it to you via courier.

And do you want to know the best bit? Not only is this fish fresher than anything you’ll get in the supermarket. It’s also cheaper. And sustainable.

My box arrived yesterday. These food deliveries are quickly becoming the highlights of my week!

They don’t use unnecessary packaging so all the fish is in one insulated box together (thankfully the kippers were vac packed).

Can you tell the difference between a cod fillet and a hake fillet? I couldn’t. But I can now! A quick google and I’ve worked out what’s what.

The mackerel look amazing. Glossy skin and clear eyes. It’s incredible to think these were caught the day before I got them! They have to be the first thing we eat.

Which brings me back to the Eagle.

“Whole Mackerel with Sauté Spinach & Tomato Chilli Jam”


Aidan however has other ideas. After thinking I was completely mad ordering fish from Cornwall, he is now on board. He’s seen the amazing mackerel. He wants to cook the mackerel.

I suppose it’s only fair. He’s put up with weeks of me getting territorial over the fridge, planning our every meal and photographing everything we eat. He hasn’t complained. Sure, he can roast the mackerel.

So now Aidan is getting out Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s Fish book. Hang on, he’s looking at a recipe for mackerel roasted with potatoes and bay. That’s not the plan! I bite my tongue.

Fine. I was planning on doing some potatoes on the side anyway. I’ll still make the chilli jam and spinach. It will be fine. This is still inspired by The Eagle.

So off I go chopping chillis and tomatoes. Into a pan they go with….. how much sugar? OK I will admit I have never made jam before. But I guess a lot of sugar is normal right? I read a few more recipes. They all have about this much in. On I go.

Aidan on the other hand in chopping potatoes, onions and lemons. Scattering with bay leaves and putting it all in to roast. This is looking less like a side dish and more of a complete meal!

Why is this starting to feel competitive? I stir my jam a little harder.

Mackerel ready to go into the oven

Once the potatoes have had about 40 minutes the mackerel goes on top and back into the oven for a final 20 minutes.

My jam is off the heat and cooling. I fry some spinach in olive oil with a small pinch of chili flakes. Dinner is ready.

Or is it two dinners?

The chilli jam is really good! Like a sort of tomatoey sweet chilli sauce. It works with the fish but I can’t help feeling I’d rather be dipping a piece of calamari into it.

Thankfully even though I only made a quarter of the recipe I’ve still got half a jar left.

Next barbecue we have that is definitely coming out!

In fact it would be great with a mackerel on a barbecue!

Just less so on a mackerel that has taken on all those lemony bay flavours.

I have to say the mackerel is delicious. And the potatoes? They are amazing! I hate to admit it. Begrudgingly I do. Aidan tries his best not to look smug.

So there you have it. I suppose it’s mackerel two ways. What could be more restaurant-y than that?

I’ll go back to the Eagle to have their mackerel. Without a bay leaf in sight.

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