A: Summer usually calls for al fresco dining – in the garden, at the beach or in the park. I love summer dining as it encourages me to try some exciting salad preparations and lazy fish dishes along with some zesty drinks. The abundance of fruits and vegetables at this time of year and very long periods of sunshine makes it quite special. Here is an easy to put together dish for either a light lunch or as a starter to a more elaborate supper.
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
4 tbsp grated fresh horseradish
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tbsp English mustard
4 smoked mackerel fillets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices soda bread, toasted and buttered
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small lemon
The only part of the dish that needs a bit of preparation is the salted cucumber. Even without the cucumbers, the dish is a bit salty due to the smoked mackerel. So you may want to use fresh cucumbers instead of salting them. But if you prefer slightly salty cucumbers, put the sliced cucumbers in a colander, lightly coat with some salt and leave aside for 30 minutes. Some of the water will be drawn out of the cucumber slices and it would be sufficiently dry to go on top of the toasted bread without causing the bread to go soggy. After leaving in the colander for 30 minutes, wash the salt off from the cucumber slices and pat dry using a kitchen towel.
Mix the grated horseradish, crème fraîche and English mustard together with a bit of freshly ground pepper in a small bowl.
Prepare the soda bread slices by toasting and butter them if you prefer. Place a few salted cucumber slices on top followed by a slice of smoked mackerel. Top it with a dollop of the freshly prepared crème dressing and a few fresh onion slices. A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice on top is all you need to finish the dish.
The strong taste of horseradish, mustard and raw onion coupled with the smoked mackerel gives this dish a very strong punch. As a starter it sets the tone for the evening and gives an indication of more hearty summer flavours to follow.