mackerel, mushrooms, herbs; cucumber, tarragon, scallion


I was at the Pura Vida fish display cases. The mackerel were beautiful, so I hardly hesitated before choosing them for our entrée on Friday night. Then Paul told me that, just 2 stalls down, Joe Rizzo had some beautiful Boletus mushrooms. I’m not an expert, but even I knew that sounded pretty special.


I love mushrooms, but I’m far less familiar with these wonderful fungi than I have eventually become with fish. I was also nonplussed, because I knew mushrooms should be used on the day they’re brought home.

At least initially, to me the combination of mackerel and mushroom seemed like anything but a natural. I mentioned my doubts to Paul, but he would have none of it. I quickly checked Google on my phone, to see if anything showed up with a search under the words, words, ‘mackerel’ and ‘mushrooms’. I couldn’t find much, partly on account of the glare outside on the pavement, but I decided I’d give the combo a try, thinking I would be able to uncover something interesting on my laptop once I had returned home.


I found a modest site I had never come across before, with what seemed a perfect fit. The recipe asked only for ingredients I had on hand (there were very few ingredients, in fact), and it was extremely simple (so simple I originally had my doubts about its virtues). Then, as I thought about it more, it made perfect sense, especially since the acidity of a little lemon was involved, appropriate for this rich oily fish, and I was going to be able accompany the mackerel and the mushrooms with some refreshingly juicy sautéed cucumbers.


It turned out wonderful, and it has freed my mackerel from its long bondage with tomato salsa, not however as a substitute for that excellent classic formula, but as perhaps only the first of a number of new alternatives to it.

  • 4 Boston mackerel fillets (a total of 14 oz) from Pura Vida Fisheries, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper, sautéed fairly gently with butter and a little olive oil inside a large, thick oval copper pan, flesh side first, turned after about 3 minutes and the other side cooked for about the same length of time, removed to 2 plates when done, covered to keep warm, a tablespoon or more butter added to the pan, and 4 ounces of mushrooms (‘Boletus Separans’) from Blue Oyster Cultivation, cut into large-ish sections, sautéed, stirring, until lightly cooked, seasoned with salt, pepper, a couple tablespoons of chopped lovage and chopped parsley, both from Keith’s Farm, and about a tablespoon of lemon juice, the mushrooms stirred some more and they and the juices spooned on top of the mackerel, which was finished with a little fresh chopped lovage and parsley
  • two luscious Barese cucumbers, from Berried Treasures, ‘hairs’ wiped off, unpeeled, cut into bite-sized segments, sautéed over a medium-hot flame in butter and a little olive oil inside a large cast iron pan until lightly browned, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with chopped tarragon from Stokes Farm, arranged on 2 plates and sprinkled with micro scallions from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was a California (Central Coast) rosé, Keith Hock Central Coast Rose 2015
  • the music was Q2 Music, streaming