Oil Poached Mackerel ‘Confit’, Morimoto Style

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/rock-shrimp-miso-risotto-from-simply-ming/

I recently re-saw an old Iron Chef America episode between Morimoto and Wadi featuing mackerel. I got intrigued by the mackerel confit on ‘mackerel flavor’ risotto.  It’s interesting to note that Iron Chef Morimoto did a similar dish as an omakase offering using salmon at his New York restaurant. (see http://www.chuckeats.com/2006/03/01/morimoto-ny-the-iron-chef-always-wins/ ), So, I thought to myself, “I would like to try that!” My notes indicated that:

For the mackerel confit, Iron Chef Morimoto cooked the mackerel, sous vide, in an immersion circulator with garlic, thyme, duck fat, and yuzu.
For the ‘mackerel flavor’ risotto’, Iron Chef Morimoto used ‘toasted sushi rice’ with ‘dried japanese mackerel’ infused dashi.

To do the risotto, I would apply the techinque I used in making the Ming Tsai Rock Shrimp risotto with sushi rice. That part of the dish would require:

1 Tablespoon minced garlic (I’d be doing the Nobu thing here and grating it)
1/2 small onion finely diced
1 8oz cup of sushi rice
1/4 cup sake
2 cups ‘dried japanese mackerel’ infused dashi with 1/2 teaspoon of salt (to properly season the risotto)

Since I couldn’t find the dried japanese mackerel, I had to substitute 1 or 2 dried herring from my local HMart.  So for the dashi, I would extract, 3 cups of dashi

Dried herring to infuse into the dashi (only need 2 or 3 of them from the bag)

Dried herring to infuse into the dashi (only need 2 or 3 of them from the bag)

and then simmered 2 cut up pieces of dried herring for about 10 minutes.  I would strain the resulting

Dried fish to be cut up and infused into the dashi

Dried fish to be cut up and infused into the dashi

Infusing the dashi as in the Iron Chef Mackerel Battle

Infusing the dashi as in the Iron Chef Mackerel Battle

infusion into the risotto.

But how do to the confit?  I didn’t have duck fat and, after some web research, I found:

http://books.google.com/books?id=3v5e7d-0CLwC&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=bluefish+confit&source=bl&ots=OXxNKSt9DC&sig=ZkSZVU0w4GxLJB_niCee8vlKshE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AQBAVJfSK8zjsATz8YDwBA&ved=0CB0Q6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=bluefish%20confit&f=false

which suggested cooking 1 1/2 lbs of bluefish in 4 cups of olive oil with 4 sprigs thyme, garlic at 160 degrees for about 90 mins. That pretty much agreed (ingredient wise) with the mackerel confit from:

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Rustici+with+Mackerel+confit.-a0190379830

(unfortunately, as I said before, I didn’t have the sous vide bags/immersion circulator set up)

But what about the lemon/yuzu issue?  Fresh yuzu wasn’t available. After some web research I found that, Matsuhisa-sama made a substitution of meyer lemons for yuzu (in a Honolulu Magazine ): “Nobu is equally happy. He will use the Meyer lemon juice instead of Japanese yuzu—after all, yuzu in Hawaii comes in a green plastic bottle and these are organic, right off the tree.”

(http://www.honolulumagazine.com/core/pagetools.php?pageid=7555&url=%2FHonolulu-Magazine%2FApril-2010%2FNobu-Doesn-039t-Panic-Goes-Organic%2F&mode=print)

But what about the lemon/yuzu issue? Well, an old Boston Globe article suggested 2 lemons (thinly sliced) for 4 mackerel; so I would probably use 1 meyer lemon for this confit.

(see http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2008/07/09/mackerel_with_lemon_and_thyme/ )

So for the mackerel confit –

1 meyer lemon (or yuzu if you happen to have it), thinly sliced
2 4-ounce Boston mackerel fillets (8oz total), as it turned out, I ended up using 4 fillets for a total of 8oz!
4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
4 sprigs of thyme
1 3/4 cups of olive oil (or at least enough to completely cover the fillets)

There were 7 fillets in the package, averaging ~2.3 oz/fillet

There were 7 fillets in the package, averaging ~2.3 oz/fillet

A meyer lemon and a bunch of thyme for the confit

A meyer lemon and a bunch of thyme for the confit

Place the confit ingredients in a pan and cook in a preheated 170 degree oven (that’s as low as my main oven goes!) for 55 minutes.

4 sprigs of thyme for the confit

4 sprigs of thyme for the confit

4 garlic cloves, crushed/smashed

4 garlic cloves, crushed/smashed

1 thinly sliced meyer lemon, garlic, mackerel, thyme, olive oil loaded for cooking

1 thinly sliced meyer lemon, garlic, mackerel, thyme, olive oil loaded for cooking

While that was cooking, I started making the risotto.  Since the dashi was unseasoned, I estimated that adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt would be enough (in addition to the 2 3-fingered 4:1 salt/pepper mix used during the cooking of the onion and garlic).

Oil Poached Mackerel 'Confit' all done!

Oil Poached Mackerel ‘Confit’ all done!

At the end of the cooking time, I got the mackerel out of the oven and started plating.

Mackerel Confit/Risotto With Carrot/Potato/Mushroom Nimono

Mackerel Confit/Risotto With Carrot/Potato/Mushroom Nimono

Upon tasting, my wife was surprised how the lemon/thyme/garlic complemented a delicate mackerel flavor – there was none of that assertive mackerel taste she was expecting. In retrospect, while I think the mackerel was perfectly cooked, it was a tad underseasoned.  If I make this

IMG_6087

again, I’m going to add the step from bluefish confit and salt the mackerel and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking it.  I’m really looking forward to doing this dish again in the near future.

Update (13 Feb 2016) –

While I was unable to get blue Atlantic to re-make this dish for my visiting in-laws, I  added the salting step to spanish mackerel and let it rest for 10 minutes before preparing it confit-style. I must say it really did make a difference.

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