Mackerel, elderflower, kohlrabi, apple, sorrel

It feels like everybody is blogging about elderflowers at the moment and it does seem like there’s an abundance of them this year, which probably explains the glut of posts online. I thought I’d do something a bit different to last week by revisiting my old friend maltodextrin to create a powder from a homemade elderflower infused oil.

Now there’s two ways to make these types of infusions, the cold method takes over a week and given I’d only picked the flowers the day before I was going to cook the recipe I just didn’t have time. The second way is much quicker and only takes an hour or two: all you do is heat the flowers and oil in a roughly 1:2 ratio to around 80°C (I got the temperature tip from Aniar’s JP McMahon) and leave to simmer.

Something new for me was kohlrabi, a vegetable I always see around this time of year but had never actually eaten. It has a mild taste akin to a cross between cabbage, radish and turnip and has a wonderful crunchy texture when raw. I decided to make a fridge pickle (also something I’d not done before) using the Modernist Cuisine best bet for sweet vinegar pickles, a 10:7:4 ratio of vinegar to water to sugar.

I knew the sweet and sour flavour of the pickled kohlrabi would work well with the fish but the main reason I used mackerel was from a post I read on Sat Bains’s blog where he cured it with elderflowers and salt. I think my dish would definitely work as a cold starter but you really need to be starting with ultra-fresh mackerel to cure it and I could only buy mine vacpacked in the supermarket (why do Kish Fish close so early on Saturdays!): who knows when that was caught so I figured it would taste much better cooked.

Mackerel, elderflower, kohlrabi, apple, sorrel

Mackerel, elderflower, kohlrabi, apple, sorrel

Serves: 2

For the pickled kohlrabi
100ml cider vinegar
70ml water
40g sugar
5g salt
150g kohlrabi, diced
15ml elderflower cordial

For the elderflower powder
50ml sunflower oil
20g elderflowers, stalks removed
6g tapioca maltodextrin

For the kohlrabi and apple puree
100g kohlrabi, diced
50g apple, peeled and diced
25g butter
2.5ml lemon juice

For the mackerel
1 mackerel fillet, halved

For the sorrel sauce
100g crème fraiche
50g sorrel

For the garnish
10g elderflowers, stalks removed
5g wood sorrel
4 white borage flowers
2 blue borage flowers


  1. For the pickled kohlrabi, place the cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve to the sugar and salt.
  3. Add the kohlrabi to a clean jar and pour in the hot pickling liquid.
  4. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge for 12 hours.
  5. When pickled, remove the kohlrabi from the jar and toss with the elderflower. Reserve.
  6. For the elderflower powder, pour the oil and elderflower into a sauce pan and simmer over a low heat (aim for an oil temperature of around 80°C) for 1 hour.
  7. When done, strain the oil through a filter into a small container.
  8. Using a whisk, mix 10ml of the elderflower oil with the tapioca maltodextrin until a powder forms. Reserve in an airtight container.
  9. For the kohlrabi and apple puree, melt 10g of butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  10. When foaming add the kohlrabi, apple, lemon juice and 100ml water.
  11. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat until the kohlrabi is very tender, around 20 minutes.
  12. Pour the contents of the pan into a blender and puree until smooth (add some more water if it needs to be loosened up).
  13. Correct he seasoning if required and then reserve and keep warm.
  14. For the mackerel, season the fish and seal in a vacuum bag.
  15. Place in a temperature controlled water bath set to 46.5°C  for 10 minutes (do not leave in the bath for longer than 15 minutes or the flesh will be mushy).
  16. For the sorrel sauce, place the crème fresh and sorrel leaves in a blender and puree until smooth.
  17. Season with salt and reserve.
  18. To plate, smear a spoon of the sorrel sauce in the middle of the plate;  lay the mackerel half in the middle; sprinkle a line of the pickled kohlrabi from the fish to the edge of the plate; dot three blobs of the kohlrabi and apple puree around the meat; sprinkle some of the elderflower powder around one side of the sorrel sauce; garnish the pickled kohlrabi with elderflowers, wood sorrel and borage flowers.

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