Gooseberry makes a happy bed mate with mackerel
Gooseberries can be very confrontational, the pot of the berry world. As their name suggests, they were traditionally used to make a sauce to accompany goose. The acidity of the berries contrasts with the fat of the goose meat. Likewise, the combination of gooseberry and mackerel is so natural because both are in season at the same time and the berry is ideal with oily fish.
In France, they are called gooseberry which translates to gooseberries. I love using gooseberries in savory recipes, although the gooseberry pies and crumbles are also delicious. Try simmering the berries in a little elderflower syrup, then spread them in a mixture of whipped cream and yogurt when cool. It is the most elegant end of summer dessert.
They grow so well here and I have so many memories of picking gooseberries from my parents’ garden, a very thorny job that we all tried to avoid when we were kids. The picking was followed by an afternoon of topping and tailing before they were simmered and turned into jam – which we then refused to eat. Now, of course, as adults with our own children, we are aware of the amount of work that goes into each little jar of jam. We all love our mother’s gooseberry jam and love it on scones or brown bread.
Gooseberries are a perfect substitute for tomatillos which are not widely available here in Ireland. They are suitable for recipes like this salsa which requires the sharpness and texture of tomatillos. Tomatilli are Mexican and look like green tomatoes with a paper wrapper wrapped around them, similar to their cousin, the Cape gooseberry. They are a bit more acidic and less sweet than unripe tomatoes, although the purple and red varieties are a bit sweeter. Here, the bold flavors of lime, cilantro and jalapeño balance perfectly with the gooseberry.
Taste the sauce once mixed as it may need a bit more sugar, depending on the acidity of the berries. I usually reserve the cilantro stems for recipes like this green sauce. It helps that they are more robust than the leaves and that they are still full of flavor. This salsa is also delicious with tortilla chips. It’s a nice, seasonal sauce and a surprising way to use the versatile little redcurrant.
Recipe: Gooseberry and Mackerel Jalapeño Salsa