Mackerel Souffle

The first cookbook I ever got, and to this day still my favorite, is Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook.  Not long after getting the book, I was asked to bring dessert to a dinner party.  I made chocolate-covered cream puffs.  They were a huge hit, and people were amazed that I hadn’t purchased them.   Cooking out of this book over the years since, Craig taught me that it isn’t hard to cook and eat well, if you are interested in doing so.

Although not widely consumed in the US, mackerel is inexpensive and highly sustainable.  Since it is an oily fish, it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  In Japan, mackerel is called saba, and is sold salted and vinegared in sushi bars.  If you enjoy sushi, I highly recommend that you try saba.

Unfortunately, souffles are often considered “restaurant only” preparations.  In fact, they are quick and easy to make, suitable for brunch, lunch, or dinner.  And, of course you can reheat a souffle.  It won’t be as airy as when it first comes out of the oven, but put it in the microwave for  30 to 40 seconds and you are good to go.

3 to 4 servings
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 can mackerel*
1 cup liquid (You can use all milk here, but to boost the flavor I like to use the drained liquid from the can of fish, plus enough milk or cream to bring it to 1 cup.)
4 eggs, separated
Salt, wasabi, and teriyaki sauce to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and blend with a wire whisk. Meanwhile, bring the liquid to a boil and add all at once to the butter-flour mixture (aka roux), stirring with the whisk until thickened and smooth. Cool the mixture.
3. Beat in, one at a time, the four egg yolks. Season with salt, wasabi, and teriyaki.
4. Flake the mackerel and blend well into the white sauce and egg mixture.
5. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they stand in peaks. (Adding about 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar is helpful.) Do not over beat. Fold the whites gently into the mackerel mixture with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, being careful not to over blend.
6. Pour into a lightly greased 1-1/2 quart souffle dish. Place in oven on the lowest rack and bake for 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

This recipe is a riff on Claiborne’s salmon souffle.  To make that instead, simply substitute salmon for the mackerel, dry mustard for the wasabi, and Worcestershire sauce for the teriyaki sauce.

*If you use the entire can, the souffle will be fairly dense.  If you want a lighter one, use only half of the can.

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