Dill, Chive & Lemon Butter stuffed Mackerel
This tasty dinner takes a mere 5 minutes to prep and has a whole host of health benefits thanks to mackerel’s high content of Omega 3s. Most of us aren’t getting enough Omega 3s, which means we aren’t reaping their amazing benefits! I love making my own flavoured butters as they last for ages and can jazz up any piece of fish in no time. I make a roll of flavoured butter to either keep in the fridge or else I freeze individual slices of it so there is always something on hand to up the fanciness factor of my dishes in a snap – because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of fancy on the sly?! The other one I make on rotation is a smoky chipotle chilli butter which works deliciously with a pan-fried seabass fillet.
Now we have landed on the subject of Omega 3s, let’s talk for a minute about fat in general. What with all of the low-fat and fat-free products on market, you could be forgiven for thinking that you should be reducing your fat intake. But there is such a thing as too little fat. Eating fat-free can lead to a range of health problems and more specifically to vitamin deficiencies. Without consuming adequate fat in our diets, our bodies are actually unable to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) that are absolutely essential to our health.
But not all fats are created equal and the types of fat we eat matter, a lot. It is best to avoid unhealthy fats, such as trans fats, but to load up on essential fats like Omega 3 and Omega 6 instead. They are part of the unsaturated fat group and are termed ‘essential’ because our bodies body cannot produce them itself, so we have to rely on our diets to get them. They form vital components of our cell walls and are important for both eye and heart health. But it is really Omega 3’s that have the amazing benefit of supporting a healthy immune system, reducing inflammation & lowering blood pressure.
In Western societies, we absolutely get enough Omega 6 as it is found in vegetable oils, meat, eggs, avocados and nuts. But we are very much lacking in our Omega 3 intakes. In a typical Western diet, the ratio between 6 and 3 is approximately 16:1 and ideally it should be around 4:1 instead. The lower the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 may actually reduce the risk of many of the chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
So the way in which we can get the balance right is by getting in more Omega 3’s to our diet, with at least two portions of oily fish per week. These include Herring, Mackerel, Sardines, Salmon and Tuna. Although just to throw another spanner in the works and make things more complicated, there is evidence of health risks associated to regularly eating fish bigger than a salmon. This is due to mercury accumulation in the food chain, so it is recommended to eat tuna occasionally and stick to the smaller fish more regularly.
Good plant-based sources of Omega 3s are soybeans, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts, so are a great addition to your diet.
For the butter
· 125g Butter – softened
· Juice & Zest from 1 Lemon
· ½ tsp Garlic Granules
· Handful of fresh Dill
· Handful of fresh Chives
· Salt & Fresh Black Pepper
For the rest
· 2 x Whole Mackerel (cleaned, head removed)
· 1 Lemon - sliced
· Some sprigs of Dill and Chives
NOTE: Making herbed butter a great way to use up any fresh herbs that look like they are about to go off. The following combinations also work well together Rosemary + Thyme, Basil + Sage, or Coriander + Lemongrass.
· Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
· Soften the butter by either leaving it out of the fridge for an hour or in the microwave on a very low setting.
· Finely chop the herbs.
· Zest and juice the lemon.
· In a bowl, add all of the ingredients and mix well until fully combined either with a fork or a hand blender.
· Transfer the herbed butter onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and roll it up to form a cylinder.
· Twist both ends tight and refrigerate.
· Place the mackerel on a parchment lined roasting tray.
· Stuff the cavity with a slice of the herbed butter, a slice of lemon and some dill and chives.
· Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the white flesh flakes off the bone easily.
· Serve with some smashed baby potatoes and a green salad.