Local Fish with a Salad of Mussels Escabeche

Serves 4

Recreate this Portuguese-inspired dish of mussels and local fish, and wow guests at your next dinner party.

A riot of flavours best enjoyed with MadFish Sauvignon Blanc.


4x 150g fish portions – skin left intact
Salt to taste
100g mussels escabeche (see recipe below)
100g carrots from escabeche (see recipe below)
50g fennel from escabeche (see recipe below)
40g shallots from escabeche (see recipe below)
5g fresh fennel fronds
120g smoked garlic aioli (see recipe below)


Cooking the Fish

Season the fish with salt on the skin side only. Heat a large non-stick pan over high heat and leave to heat up for about 2 minutes. Add a light film of oil to the pan and when smoking, carefully place the fish in, skin side down. Press down on the fish fillets with a strong metal spatula in order to stop the fish from curling for the first minute. Cook the fish to your liking set aside for 30 seconds. Place fish on the plate. Smear a portion of the garlic aioli onto the plate and top with the escabeche ingredients. Serve immediately


Mussels Escabeche  

150ml olive oil
6 large shallots – cut into fine rings
1/2 carrot cut into wedges
1 clove garlic – halved
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander seeds lightly crushed
1 star anise
Small pinch ground cumin
Pinch saffron threads
1 teaspoon honey
Salt to taste
1/2 fennel bulb very finely sliced – fronds picked and reserved
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Chardonnay vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice


Heat a saucepan over high heat, add the mussels and the white wine and cover with a tight fitting lid. After a minute, check the mussels and give them a vigorous stir, then replace the lid and leave for one more minute. Repeat until most of the mussels have opened, discarding any that haven’t and drain immediately then place the mussels in a container. Clean the little beards away from the mussels and store in a container filled with filtered mussel cooking liquid

Place 150ml olive oil, shallots, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, coriander, star anise, cumin, saffron, honey and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Place over low heat and gently cook the escabeche for about 5 minutes – it should only gently simmer, don’t boil it. Cook until the carrots are barely firm.

Just before serving, finely shave 4 slices each of fennel bulb, gently toss through the salad. Put salad onto plate, on top of the smoked aioli, top the salad with beautiful fronds of fennel.

Place your cooked fish to the side and serve immediately.


Smoked Garlic Aioli

1 egg yolk
1 clove – smoked garlic
Sea salt flakes
Finely ground white pepper
125mls neutral oil – not olive oil
Lemon juice

Take a clove of garlic and slice it finely. Sprinkle over with a few sea salt flakes and using the flat of your knife, mash the garlic with the salt flakes. The flakes are abrasive and will turn the garlic into a paste. Place the egg yolk, the garlic paste and a dash of ground white pepper into a bowl. Whisk this mixture until combined. Add a drop or two of oil at a time until the mixture starts to thicken – you can then drizzle it at a steady pace while you whisk. Once all the oil has been absorbed keep whisking until the mixtures looks glossy – add a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice (or a white wine vinegar if you prefer) and whisk briefly. Taste and adjust any of the seasonings as desired. Store this in the fridge in a sealed container.