This vibrant mackerel appetizer comes from Chef Esben Holmboe Bang of Oslo’s Maaemo Restaurant. It is served with a puree of ramson, which is a type of wild garlic found in Norway. The delicate taste and texture of the fish is perfectly balanced with the bolder flavored puree. Then further enhanced with a combination from the bite of ramson flowers and the honey sweet blossoms from a type of wild viola found in Europe. Mackerel & Ramson from Maaemo Restaurant in Oslo, Norway.
True Norwegian ramson will be difficult to find in North America, the greens from ramps, chives and/or green garlic could be substituted. Chive blossoms could replace the ramson flowers. The small honey tasting viola called for in this recipe is a small European wildflower that is called Johnny Jump Up in North America.
- 2 small filets (about 4‑inches long) of very fresh mackerel, trimmed & cleaned
- 4 cup brine (1 part sugar, 2 part vinegar, 3 part water, salt to taste)
- 150 gram garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
- 100 gram cream
- 300 gram ramson greens, roughly chopped (see note)
- 200 gram sunflower oil
- 90 gram canola oil
- 50 gram balsamic apple vinegar
- 6 wild ramson flowers (see note)
- 6 wild viola flowers (see note)
Bring a small saucepan half-filled with water to a boil. Add the garlic and blanch about 1 minute. Discard water, reserving the garlic. Then refill the saucepan with fresh water and repeat blanching one more time. Empty saucepan and reserve garlic.
Add the cream to the saucepan along with the blanched garlic. Simmer the garlic in the cream until it becomes quite soft. Using a blender purée the mixture to a completely smooth texture. Push it through a fine-meshed strainer back into the small saucepan and set aside.
In a clean blender purée the fresh ramson greens with the both the sunflower oil and canola oil, then strain it into another small bowl; pressing the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much of the oil as possible. Set aside.
Pour half of the reserved ramson oil into a small, clean saucepan. Add the apple balsamic vinegar, whisk to emulsify. Add the remaining ramson oil to the saucepan with the garlic purée, mix until well incorporated.
Pickle the mackerel in the cool brine for 11 minutes.
Gently heat the ramson vinaigrette sauce and the garlic ramson purée separately, stirring each the whole time, to just about body temperature.
Serve a dollop of the purée next to a room temperature mackerel filet. Garnish with the wild flowers and then spoon the ramson vinaigrette sauce onto the plate while tableside. Enjoy!