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For the opening round of Combinations the Wine and Food Matching Challenge I have selected a recipe that appeared in last weekends Times – Baked Mackerel with Rhubarb Sauce. Hopefully those who rise to the challenge of finding a wine to accompany will have no problems in locating fresh Mackerel and Rhubarb.

The recipe is detailed below and is also viewable online at the Times website. In selecting a wine for this dish consider that mackerel is quite an oily fish while the sauce is, in comparison, quite sharp. The deadline for entries is the 24th of the month. See a previous post for the full background to the challenge.

Baked Mackerel With Rhubarb Sauce (for two).

The Mackerel

  • 2 small mackerel 1 per person (about 450g each), gutted and cleaned
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 75ml dry cider
  • 1 tbsp butter

The Sauce

  • 250g young rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
  • 60ml dry cider
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • Nutmeg (fresh for grating)

Oven to to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Make three diagonal slashes on each side of each fish. Season inside and out. Place in a shallow ovenproof dish. Put two bay leaves in each cavity, then pour over the cider and dot with butter. Cover with foil so the dish is completely sealed and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Put the rhubarb, cider, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan. Grate in a generous amount of nutmeg. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a soft pink purée.

Serve the fish with the rhubarb sauce on the side. Boiled potatoes as an accompaniment.


  1. sam says:

    so for this wine matching challenge we always have to make the recipe you specify?

  2. maggie says:

    What a great idea for a contest!
    This isn’t hard at all; No food is too clever.

  3. Andrew says:

    Yep Sam, that’s the general idea, recreate the recipe selected by the host. Of course if you can’t locate mackerel in your part of the world then another similar fish could be substituted.
    But Maggie it is not really supposed to be ‘hard’ but an experiment, if you will, across the blogs in finding what matches well and what doesn’t. There are plenty of options; perhaps a bewildering number for those not that clued up on the wine side of things so I am very interested in finding what people try and if the wine really ‘works’.

  4. sam says:

    i like the idea but of course we dont eat fish in this household. Well I do but he doesnt. And mackerel is pretty hard to come by over here on the pacific.

  5. Andrew says:

    This was the first fresh fish I have brought for many a long year; but it is dirt cheap at the moment so couldnt resist. Had a panic immediatly after posting suddenly realising that mackerel was not going to be available everywhere; the other option was liver and how many people would have cringed at that!. Beau is going to host the next round so perhaps his recipe will be more suitable.

  6. sam says:

    ah – but you know that in our houshold we cringe at liver no more :)
    Plus you gave me some pairings for liver, so I could have cheated!

  7. John Chamard says:

    The magic formula for “what in God’s name can I pair with this dish” items is an off-dry Riesling.

  8. sam says:

    not that I was going to enter anyway, but just so you know, over here the rhubarb season has been delayed cos of the recent unseasona rains. Means I can’t be making the rhubharb recipe I planned on inventing for what’s for pud?


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