Odds and ends

Rifling through the fridge. It’s a weekday evening. Life is busy – barely had any time to shop and get food. You’re ravenous …

A mismatched array of things came out of cupboards and the fridge; smoked mackerel fillets, purple sprouting broccoli, brown rice, some seasonings.

The major food groups are all present and correct; protein, carbs and veg. What to do? Combine them obviously, but how?!

I rifled through my taste memories.

In Kenya mackerel wasn’t a fish I had encountered, even less so smoked.

In South India however, yes, it was.

Mackerel also features in South East Asian and Northern European recipes.

That said, I had no taste memories to hand.

So instead, I tried an odd but successful combination of flavours, part Italian and part Northern English, with a dash of Indian thrown in for good measure.

Brown rice – in a tablespoon of oil I warmed the rice to prevent sticking and then turned the heat up and poured in boiling water to just over 1 cm above the rice, cover and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes check the rice and stir briefly. If you need to, add two or three tablespoons of water and cover again for 5 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Brown rice is rich in fibre and slightly denser than white rice and is arguably better for you as it gives fibre and a higher level of nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, and selenium than polished white rice.

Broccoli – I’d bought this from a local market. I trimmed the edges of the stalks and (stalk first) placed these in a colander placed in a pan suspended over some boiling water and covered. Left on a low heat, these steamed through, and were ready in 10 minutes. I prefer to steam as it preserves more of the Vitamins C, K and A which are all present in broccoli. Purple sprouting broccoli is at its best from February to April, filling in the food gap when there’s little else growing in British fields.

Seasoning – I then chopped a couple of cloves of garlic and fried these off in a little olive oil, adding the steamed broccoli as a I turned down the heat, added a pinch of sea salt and one of chilli flakes along with a squeeze of half a lemon, and some zest from the skin and turned a couple of times till the flavours had combined. As an alternative you could, instead of salt, add a dash of soy sauce and sesame seeds which you cook along with the garlic to get the best of the flavour out. As before, add a pinch of chilli if you like.

Mackerel – this is a lovely oily fish filled with goodness. I warmed the fish slightly in a frying pan and served them atop the brown rice with the broccoli to one side, and another squeeze of fresh lemon. 30 minutes in all, and a delicious, quick weekday supper assembled from random odds and ends.

You could easily substitute pasta for brown rice and combine the broccoli with it. Pasta would be super quick and you’d have supper on the table in 15 minutes max.