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Mackerel with Gooseberry


Grilled fish with a gooseberry puree.

The 1803 "The History of the Grubthorpe Family Or the Old Bachelor and His Sister Penelope" has:
First course, a dish of mackerel and gooseberry sauce, and marvelously good eating, for those who are neither hungry nor dainty. Besides, you know we don’t visit our friends for the sake of eating and drinking. There is old-maidishness in the look of mackerel, -not that they are very demure looking fish, but they are neat, and prim, and very insipid withal. Yet considering how rapidly they increase and multiply one should infer that celibacy is much in vogue among them.


Original Receipt from 'Cheltenham Chronicle' - Saturday 20 August 1938

Mackerel with Gooseberry Sauce
Allow a medium sized mackerel to each person and for each mackerel half a pound of gooseberries. Get the fish-monger to remove the backbones from the mackerel. Either boil them in salted water or grill, and if possible sprinkle with chopped fennel. Failing this, use chopped parsley. Make a puree of the gooseberries by putting the fruit in a saucepan with one or two tablespoonfuls of water and a little sugar and simmering till the gooseberries are tender enough to rub through sieve. This puree can be served as it is, or if liked, added to white sauce.

Mackerel with Gooseberry
Image: Alex Bray...

Original Receipt in 'The Book of Household Management' edited by Isabella Beeton, 1861 (See Mrs.B)


429. INGREDIENTS. - 1 pint of green gooseberries, 3 tablespoonfuls of Bechamel, No. 367 (veal gravy may be substituted for this), 2 oz. of fresh butter; seasoning to taste of salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg.

Mode. Boil the gooseberries in water until quite tender; strain them, and rub them through a sieve. Put into a saucepan the Bechamel or gravy, with the butter and seasoning; add the pulp from the gooseberries, mix all well together, and heat gradually through. A little pounded sugar added to this sauce is by many persons considered an improvement, as the saccharine matter takes off the extreme acidity of the unripe fruit.

Time. Boil the gooseberries from 20 minutes to½ hour.
Sufficient, this quantity, for a large dish of mackerel.
Seasonable, from May to July.

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